Seven Truths: Spain’s reign well and truly over

The Rio Report

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Spanish abdicate in abject fashion

It was perhaps fitting that on the same day that King Carlos abdicated his throne, the Spanish national football team also relinquished their crown. As reigning European and World champions heading into this World Cup, Spain were rightly regarded as football royalty, but at times during their 2-0 defeat to Chile, Vicente Del Bosque's side resembled nothing more than a ragged collection of commoners. "We cannot complain we did not deserve to go out, they were better than us," Del Bosque said. And with a pumped-up Australia next up, Spain could yet head back to Europe without a win under their belt. A football dynasty is over.

Fan invasion should be of concern to FIFA and World Cup organisers

When 200 Chilean fans stormed the Maracana media centre, figurative alarm bells should have been set ringing in the ears of Sepp Blatter. (In fact, real alarm bells might have helped too, but that's another story.) Just how did this group of hyped-up, ticketless supporters get so far into the stadium? The damage sustained was limited, and for that we must be thankful, but that the mob managed to get past security and into the media room is worrying. "They stormed the gate and ran into the stadium," security guard Diego Guilherme de Souza Goncalves said by way of explanation. "We stopped them." Well, yes, eventually. But that is not good enough for such a tournament.


Aussies rising from Down Under

In Australia, football has long been regarded as second-rate sport, behind the dominant indigenous code of Australian Rules Football, along with rugby league, rugby union and cricket, but the round-ball game is undeniably on the up Down Under. Its rise can only have been further helped by the Socceroos' latest heroic performance at this World Cup, a gallant 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands, in which Australia led 2-1 at one stage and Tim Cahill scored one of the goals of the tournament, arguably even of all time (aguably, see below). Ange Postecoglou's side may be pointless after two games and on their way home, but they have won many new admirers in the week they have been in Brazil.


Tim Cahill not over the hill just yet

Cahill raised a few eyebrows with his decision to quit the Premier League and move across to Pond to play for the New York Red Bulls. Even at the age of 34, many thought he still had another Premier League season in him before joining the has-beens in the MLS career graveyard. He might well have done, but his move to the US certainly has not done him any harm. Indeed, Cahill has never looked sharper in front of goal, his headed effort in the Socceroos' opener against Chile backed up with an absolutely storming volley against Holland. Championing it as the best goal in World Cup history may be slightly over-the-top, but it certainly was a sensational strike and one worthy of gracing such a stage.

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RVP flourishing under LVG

The World Cup just keeps on getting better for Manchester United fans. Robin van Persie's relationship with Louis van Gaal continues to give supporters of the deposed Premier League champions hope that the striker will rediscover his best form at club level. Another game, another goal for the Dutchman, who made it three in two with Holland's second against Australia. Van Gaal clearly thinks highly of Van Persie and the player is responding in kind. If the pair can transport the good vibes from Brazil to Manchester next month, United will be big winners.

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Cameroon need to find discipline

As long as they put in displays as abject as they did against Croatia, Cameroon will never even come close to becoming the first African nation to win the World Cup. Never short of raw talent, Cameroon all too regularly press the self-destruct button, their latest implosion coming after Alex Song elbowed Mario Mandzukic in an off-the-ball incident to prompt his dismissal and then Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted his own team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo. The Indomitable Lions are undisciplined and divided - and now, deservedly, out of the tournament.


Roman Abramovich has good reason for concern

The clamour over Diego Costa rang out loud and clear throughout last season, prompting Chelsea to dig deep to meet the £32m buyout clause in the striker's contract at Atletico Madrid. The deal is as good as done, apparently, although the 'i's are yet to be dotted, the 't's yet to be crossed. The finishing touches to his new Chelsea deal were supposed to be applied after the World Cup, but given Costa's performances in Brazil, Roman Abramovich could be forgiven for sweating a little on the transfer he has sanctioned. The Brazil-born Spain international has so far done little to justify such an inflated price tag, and fears that he could be the new Fernando Torres have already been aired in some quarters. One wonders how far down the track Chelsea are, and whether they are considering pulling out.


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