Boy, did they ever.
The Spaniards got it on the chin from the Netherlands and now this: a drubbing from Chile five days later.
The World Cup holders gave up seven goals in two matches, which is no way to defend the title.
None of that, of course, detracts from the fact that where it counts — European football — the Spaniards reign.
After all, the European championship which Spain won in 2008 and 2012 and the national premier league La Liga (or the English Premier League for that matter) have a higher caliber of play than a World Cup tournament.
Still, Spain being shown the door this early is heartbreaking to their fans around the world. Spare a thought for the Spanish people for whom a World Cup win or loss is a matter of national honor.
With a workmanlike 5-1 victory on Friday, the Netherlands set in train Spain’s demise. Few expected the Spaniards to repeat as champions but fewer could have imagined such an ignominious end to their title hopes.
When the Chileans scored a 2-0 shutout Wednesday (Thursday morning in Hong Kong), they rendered Spain’s upcoming match with Australia academic.
Some sportswriters are calling Spain’s flameout a classic case of the World Cup curse on European teams, meaning you never win the championship and expect to get past the first hurdle next time around.
In 1998 France won but four years later, they didn’t even score a single goal. In 2006, it was Italy’s turn but in 2010, they bombed in the first round.
Spain lifted the golden trophy four years ago in South Africa and began preparing for Brazil as soon as they left Johannesburg.
Just three months before kickoff, the Spaniards had scored three straight tune-up wins, including a 1-0 squeaker over Italy.
Curse or burnout or just good, old-fashioned example of the better team winning? You be the judge.
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