Spain's mauling at the hands of the Netherlands should not come as a shock to all, truth be told it was on the cards for a long time. Just as Spain's rise to prominence was in sync with Barcelona's domination, their fall also closely mirrors that of Barcelona's.
Last season Spain were absolutely battered by Brazil in the Confederations Cup final 3-0; likewise, Barcelona were thumped 7-0 in the semi-finals by eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich. To take things even further, both Spain and Barcelona were extremely fortunate to got to their respectives stages; Spain needed penalties to overcome Italy in the Confederations Cup semi-finals, whilst Barcelona beat PSG on away goals in the Champions League quarter final.
In the aftermath of both results, what came to mind was that both Spain and Barcelona were past their peaks and serious changes were needed. However, as Barcelona neglected to make the changes needed to bring themselves back to the top, it was no surprise they had their worst season in six years as local rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid bested them in La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey.
Therefore, given the strong correlation between Barcelona and Spain, it only makes sense that if Barcelona had their worst season in years, Spain would go on to emulate that.
Vicente Del Bosque has to take full blame for Spain's malaise, because just like the hierarchy in Barcelona, he has remained blind to the fact his tried and trusted charges from Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 have regressed.
Keeping with the Barcelona theme, Del Bosque fielded five of their players against the Netherlands. Of those five (Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta), only Busquets enjoyed a good and consistent season.
Iniesta who was brilliant last and has hands down been the best playmaker for several years, had something of a minor dip this season; Xavi and Pique have been on the decline for several years for entirely different reasons (age has caught up with Xavi, whilst Pique has suffered from being the only classified central defender in Barcelona); and Alba has simply had an injury hit season.
Another starter and Spanish legend, Iker Casillas, has not been the number one goalkeeper for his club Real Madrid for over 18 months. Diego Lopez, the player that has taken the number one jersey at Real Madrid, was not even chosen for the World Cup. Spain's number two goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, is 31 and on loan from his parent club.
Substitute Pedro started the season on fire with Barcelona but trailed off horribly, the same could be said for Cesc Fabregas who has since left Barcelona for Chelsea due to his incompatibility with the team's playing ethos (remember the link between Barcelona and Spain). The less said about Fernando Torres the better.
On face value it seems as though an era has passed for Spain, but considering La Liga had the first ever inter-city Champions League final between fierce rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid; Sevilla and Valencia made up two of four semi-finalists in the Europa League; and the semi-finalists in the Champions League (Bayern Munich & Chelsea) as well as the Europa League semi-finalists (Benfica & Juventus) have a strong contingency of Spanish players, it is clear the national team is as strong as ever.
When Spain's domination of world football started back in 2008, apart from their unique playing style, meritocracy was a deciding factor. Players underrated in the football world such as Villareal trio Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla were given their major tournament debuts. David Villa, Daniel Guiza and Sergio Garcia were chosen ahead of the in-form and national hero, Raul.
The world's best team this year has been arguably Atletico Madrid and none of their players, aside from Diego Costa played against the Netherlands. Furthermore, only David Villa, Koke and Juanfran made the Spanish World Cup squad. The likes of Gabi and Raul Garcia, who both had excellent season's, were left at home. Even the likes of Mario Suarez and Adrian who did not play often would have been of better use considering how Spain lost - conceding on the counter.
Atletico Madrid had the best defence in European football and their pressing was the main reason why. Had Koke been playing instead of the leggy Xavi, and Gabi instead of the slow Busquets or Xabi Alonso, it is doubtful Spain would have been exposed in the manner they were. It is worth mentioning that the 'tiki-taka' philosophy was built on pressing - something the likes of Xavi and Xabi Alonso lack at the ages of 34 and 32 respectively.
Also, with more Atletico players on the field, it is likely the service to lone forward Diego Costa would have been better. When Costa got Spain's penalty, it was a glimpse to a new dimension he brings, the downside was that Spain did not look for that ball on several occasions.
Many people have dawned this result as the day 'tiki-taka' came to and end, conversely, I argue it is the day the international careers of many Spaniards came to an end. With the likes of Diego Lopez, Thiago Alcantara, Iker Muniain, Isco and many other waiting in the wings, 'tiki-taka' still has a long way to go as long as meritocracy rules the roost.