Euro 2016: Five players who let Spain down in France
We take a look at the key people responsible for the early exit of the defending champions from the tournament.
Spain, a team which after being labelled ‘perennial underperformers’ had finally started showing what they are capable of. They won three major football tournaments in a row, Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. It was the golden era of Barcelona’s midfield domination with Xavi leading it and it showed for Vicente Del Bosque’s side. But, since then, we have seen a steady decline especially after the humiliating 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Dutch and a first round exit from Brazil in 2014.
It is not easy to pick out certain stars for the demise as there are many different factors like Xavi leaving, a change in the approach of the oppositions etc but we take a look at 5 players who surely could have done better at Euro 2016.
1) Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos, El Capitan, in the absence of Iker Casillas was given the armband to lead the La Furia Roja after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid. But he was just not up to his high standards here. His performance went on deteriorating as the tournament progressed.
Although Spain looked defensively solid in the first 2 games but when they were truly tested against quality attacks they failed to cope with aerial balls and set-pieces and were equally vulnerable on counters. The experienced centre-back pairing of Gerard Pique and Ramos who are supposedly good in the air could have done better there.
Also, as far as attacking set-pieces is concerned, once again much more was expected from at least Ramos. We have seen him score some crucial goals for Real at crunch times but he failed miserably for Spain. His shot accuracy was a meagerly 14% and he failed to convert some really good chances even in the game against Italy where it was required the most.
But most of all, it was his penalty miss against Croatia which would hurt Spain the most. It proved costly as Spain went on to lose the game and finish 2nd in their group squaring them up with Italy in the next round.