Spain's media reacts to shock World Cup exit: a team 'without soul or joy'
There was shock and pain in the Spanish media Monday morning, as fans and pundits came to terms with their disappointing World Cup exit on penalties to Russia.
Amid lots of puns around the Spanish words pena (meaning a pity, a shame or a prison sentence) and penalty, there was also plenty of blame to go around, with a consensus that their tournament had been fatally undermined even before it began.
Walking home -- A Spain without pace, without depth, without soul or joy, with sterile domination, fall on penalties against a basic Russia.
Maximum sentence -- Spain say goodbye to the World Cup after 120 minutes with little play, with no goals, against an inferior Russia. Koke and [Iago] Aspas miss in the shootout, [David] De Gea does not stop any penalties, and after the blow [Fernando] Hierro leaves his future hanging in the air.
Satisfied? Failure at the World Cup for the Spanish national team, who were hit when Florentino Perez signed [Julen] Lopetegui.
Tears for a crazy World Cup.
"Spain lost on penalties in the round of 16 against the worst host country in the history of the World Cup. The disastrous exit is fitting in a way for an absurd tournament from the national team, groggy ever since the president of the federation, Luis Rubiales, debuted in the job by guillotining the project. He could not accept the disloyalty he saw in the national coach signing for Real Madrid, leaving the team without their main leader 48 hours before the tournament began."
"Things went so badly for Spain during this turbulent World Cup, that they ended up condemning themselves. They did not even meet any famous opponents on their path. It didn't matter that the final sword thrust came from Russia, a team just as average as Iran and Morocco. In these days of anguish, everything was a mountain for La Roja. Without football, Spain had no structure or remedy, for all that they bristled against criticism and did not fix on their real enemy -- Spain themselves."
"Of the six world champions, only [Sergio] Ramos and [Sergio] Busquets will stay for sure. [Gerard] Pique and [Andres] Iniesta have announced their goodbyes; it will be difficult for [David] Silva and [Pepe] Reina to continue. The hour has come for a definitive generation shift in Spanish football. The transition has been hard, and now a totally new stage will open, leaving the new national coach to start again without any ties to the past."
Undertandably, there was a different mood in the Russian media.
Russian national team's official Twitter account wrote: "Now we'll unlock the mystery. Here's how Artem Dzyuba trained Igor Akinfeev to make that last penalty save before the match."
Откроем вам секрет: именно Артем Дзюба на тренировке обучил Игоря Акинфеева последнему сейву в серии пенальти 😎 pic.twitter.com/2rxcTEouko— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) July 2, 2018
A radio presenter promised to host the whole day in a woman's dress if Russia got past Spain. He kept his promise.
Ведущий Спорт FM Александр Софронов накануне матча 1/8 финала #ЧМ2018 Россия - Испания пообещал, что в случае победы нашей команды, он будет весь день работать в эфире в женском платье. И он сдержал слово! #WorldCup #Ф2014 #Russia2018— Спорт FM (@sport_fm) July 2, 2018
Смотрим здесь https://t.co/jlxtzmiTDG pic.twitter.com/3IrZ2OrD87
Russia's newspapers are full of exclamations without much analysis of what happened.
Sport Express has "Hoooray" on its frontpage and a line from a famous song: "You're just a space (out of this world), Stas" (referring to the Russia's head coach Stanislav Cherchesov).
Another page features a headline "Heroes of our time," referring to the players. Its columnist writes: "We've been jealous of other countries' star players and teams who heroically stood against bigger opponents, producing miracles. But now we finally have our own team who can do the same. We were so disciplined in defence and didn't allow the mighty Spain do much in front of our goal."
Sovetskiy Sport has a frontpage with the only word: "Nashi!" (which can be translated "ours" or "our own men").
On the next page there's another exclamation: "Muzhiki" (meaning "Real men" -- a term that was first used by FC Rostov fans after their heroic performances against bigger teams in Europe).
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan