Sportskeeda Football 2018 awards: 4 teams who were big letdowns
Spain went into the summer’s World Cup with high hopes after qualifying comfortably with 9 wins and 1 draw, including a victory over Italy. But despite many analysts considering them one of the favourites to win the tournament, it’s hard to look back on their time in Russia as anything other than an absolute disaster.
Manager Julen Lopetegui was fired on the eve of the tournament after it was revealed that he’d be leaving to manage Real Madrid after the World Cup was over, and Spain legend Fernando Hierro was quickly parachuted in to replace him.
Spain’s first game was a barnburner – a 3-3 draw against Portugal that was considered as one of the best of the tournament –but that was about as good as it got for the 2010 winners. They stuttered to a dull 1-0 win over Iran in their next group game, and then relied on a last-minute equaliser to secure a draw with Morocco in their third fixture.
In the round of 16, faced with hosts Russia, Spain bossed proceedings with 79% possession, but they just couldn’t do enough with it – passing for the sake of it – and ended up losing a penalty shoot-out in a massive upset. Unsurprisingly, Hierro then resigned.
If Spanish fans thought things would get better in the autumn, they were sorely mistaken. Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique seemed to have righted the ship with UEFA Nations League wins over England and Croatia, but losses to both sides in the return fixtures – including a devastating 2-3 loss to England in Seville – meant they were only able to finish second in their group, missing out on 2019’s finals in Portugal.
Overall, 2018 was a poor year for Spain, with the World Cup disaster suggesting major changes need to be made for them to succeed again as they did a decade ago.