Blog Written by Justin Sherman (@JShermOfficial):
The end of an era: This loss officially closes the book on the Vicente Del Bosque reign. It was a magical six years that included a Euro Cup and Spain’s very first World Cup, but unfortunately, a lack of imagination and the ability to adapt, did him in. It seemed like everything needed to go right for the ball to hit the back of the net.
A perfect pass.
A perfect cross.
A perfect shot.
Sometimes you just need to be able to produce a score out of nothing. Pure individual brilliance that shines through from out of the shadows. David Villa was that light and nobody has been able to replicate it since.
Where were the kids? Spain may take years to recover from this. The failure after the 2012 Euro’s to evolve or integrate youth into the ranks transformed La Roja into a slow and inconsistent side. Del Bosque picked his favorites, overlooking their atrocious form on the club level, to not feature players such as Isco and Thiago who should've played more after their U-21 success. There was a lack of energy in this side that was apparent to even the most amateur fan. Maybe the hunger that drove this generation to end 44 years of misery and mockery faded away on that starry night in Kiev.
The Italian’s and Conte put on a technical master class: So much for the the pundits eh? Heart, passion and will are things that can never be measured, and Conte extracted every last drop of it from this roster. Players who were almost laughed off the selection sheet were the ones left smiling. Pelle, Eder and Giaccherini caused the Spanish back line problems all game with their pace and link up play. If it weren’t for the stellar play of David De Gea, the score could've been much, much, worse.
Onto the world champions: Italy now get a date with Germany in the quarter-finals on Saturday July 2. They will again go in as underdogs, but have the strength of history behind them. Italy have never lost to the Germans in a major competition (4 wins and 4 draws), and will not be looking to start now. Italy are winning as they always do -- with grit, defense and passion and if Germany are not careful, they will be their latest victim.