Betfred Sport

The downfall of Tiki-Taka or just a freak exit for Spain?

It won’t be an amazing treble for Iberian dominance as Spain surprisingly crashed out of Olympic football yesterday evening, failing to maintain their most burgeoning of reputations following back to back European Championships success and World Cup glory in 2010.

Luis Milla’s side fell to Central Americans’ Honduras who managed to negotiate a victory after Jerry Bengtson’s solitary goal in the sixth minute proved enough to inflict defeat on the gold medal hopefuls at St James Park, Newcastle.

Following Thursday’s unexpected loss in the Group D opener against Japan, La Roja required victory to remain in the competition, with Japan defeating Morocco 1-0 earlier in the evening.

What’s more surprising about the exit is that amidst all the largely under-23 squads’ selected in the competition, Spain’s looked for all one of the most competitive with Brazil arguably their main competition in terms of strength and depth.

Selected in the squad were familiar Premier League names such as David De Gea, Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata (pictured), alongside stellar La Liga talents such as Iker Muniain, Adrian Lopez, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez with the latter two having just joined Barcelona for just over £10m and being linked with a £40m transfer elsewhere respectively.

In terms of capability, it wasn’t any wonder why many chose Spain as tournament favourites.

So is Spain’s next golden generation really as good as we’ve presumed, do Xavi and Iniesta have to be involved to realise the true worth of Tiki-Taka football and where do the Iberians go from here?

Putting the exit into perspective

Although Spain are the current number one ranked side in the world, we mustn’t forget a lot of this work has been down to the senior side and naïve thoughts that the Under-23 side would simply follow suit, sweeping away all opposition in similar ruthless style were probably wide of the mark.

However, in terms of talent at Milla’s disposal to put Spain’s elimination in perspective, La Roja are the reigning champions at both Under-21 and Under-19 level as well as their much coveted senior triumphs on the international stage.

Instant reactions point to a freak exit, with Spain striking against the woodwork three times in the second half and the referee having a questionable performance with the overriding notion that in typical football cliché, it was just one of those days.

What we have grown accustomed to in recent years is that as a nation, Spain have been amongst an elite group of few who have always had an answer to any situation on a football pitch.

Perhaps, the superhuman efforts of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga have promoted such a culture of excellence, but when La Roja were defeated by Japan on Thursday, the football public were taken aback by the sheer fact, a Tiki-Taka style was finally undermined.

Where do Spain go from here?

With Olympic success deemed by many to be much lower on the footballing food chain, Spanish football won’t be surmising any knee-jerk reactions just yet, but after winning all there was to win in recent years with players such as Cesc Fabregas saying the country is hungry for more, this exit should carry some shock value in the eyes of La Roja’s cultures of excellence.

To be honest, Spain might well have scored one of the efforts that struck the bar on another day and in a game of fine margins, the game could have turned in their favour very quickly.

It is no fluke that the country has bred talents in recent years such as Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez and Iker Muniain and the largely diminutive new generation have proved in La Liga that technical skill and ball retention are firmly amongst the key ingredients required for success, let alone a competitive game plan.

Spain will continue to educate via their pioneering Tiki-Taka style and a next crop of exciting youngsters won’t be that far away periodically.

In the meantime, Spain will play for pride in their final Group D game against Morocco and the Iberians will want to make sure that they don’t slip to the unlucky statistic that they depart London 2012 without even registering a solitary goal.

By Taylor Williams - Follow me on Twitter @Taylor_Will1989 - Visit my blog:

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