Spain plane struck by lightning after return from World Cup campaign
JUN 24, 2014 1:23p ET
Spain arrived in Madrid -- and unlike four years ago -- with a terrifying scare after its aircraft was struck by lightning as it came in to land at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport on Tuesday.
A spokesman from the Iberia flight confirmed that flight Iberia 2907 was hit with a bolt of lighting. The airplane was not damaged and no one on board was harmed.
Vicente del Bosque's side endured the country's worst performance in a World Cup finals in Brazil. The defending champions bowed out of the competition after painful defeats to Holland and Chile in Group B. They ended the tournament with a 3-0 consolation triumph over Australia on Monday in Curitiba.
"We are not pleased with our overall performance at the World Cup," Del Bosque said to Spanish newspaper El Mundo. "But it was important to finish with a win. Against Australia we handed a respectable performance, except in the opening 15 minutes of the game. But the efforts shown by my players against Australia is to be praised."
Few prominent players from the national team escaped the wrath of the Spanish media but Del Bosque insists La Roja's golden generation must be applauded for what it has achieved. "Without considering the titles, for six years we have practically been first in FIFA's ranking," del Bosque said. "These players have done their work, they have behaved well."
Del Bosque has yet to confirm if he will continue in charge of the European champions. The 63-year-old is under contract until Euro 2016 in France and is the country's most successful coach. "I have not set myself a specific date," he said. "We will try to see what is the best solution for our football, without drama and using good judgment."
Long-serving stars including Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina are expected to retire from international duty. With or without him, Del Bosque is aware a transition must begin to renovate the team in view of Euro 2016.
"We are leaving with our head held high and now we have to allow others to step forward," he said. "The future of the national team is safe, whoever the national coach is."
One veteran who confirmed he has ended his international career in Brazil was David Villa. The new New York City FC striker, who is Spain's all-time leading scorer with 59 goals, played his last game for La Roja against Australia. Villa was handed a start alongside Torres for the first time in the tournament on Monday and struck a beautiful back-heeled flick against the Socceroos.
"I would love to play for Spain all my life but that is impossible," Villa said. "It has been an enormous joy to play for Spain. I hope someone else breaks my goalscoring record because that would be good news for the national team. I will always wish Spain the best, for what it has given me, for the privilege that it has been to be in this group."
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was disappointed his side could not secure a surprise in their last game in Brazil but admitted Spain were the better team.
"I really admire Spain's football and they deserve my greatest respect," he said. "For us it has been disappointing. We started well but then Spain showed their quality and they imposed their style of play. We were tired and we gave the ball away too easily."
Australia were the lowest ranked team heading into the tournament and showed frailties in defense. However, they earned plaudits for their attacking display, despite suffering three defeats in Group B.
"We came into this tournament with the right intent and we were positive and backed ourselves and had belief," Postecoglou said. "We have pushed some of the best countries in the world. We're not a top 15 nation right now. And that is what we have got to try and be in the next four years, we have got to push on and try and bridge that gap."