WCup champ Spain reels from worst defeat since ’63

Spain was reeling from its worst defeat in 47 years as the World

Cup champion was showered with criticism on Thursday for closing an

historic year with a 4-0 rout from Portugal.

Four months after eliminating Portugal on its way to its first

ever World Cup triumph, coach Vicente del Bosque said Spain

”couldn’t have played any worse” on Wednesday as it endured its

worst defeat since a 6-2 loss to Scotland in 1963.

The Spanish press agreed.

Sports daily Marca labeled it ”A Terrible Slap to the Face,”

while El Pais wrote ”Spain’s prestige wasted.” La Razon was

brief: ”Champion Ridiculed.”

Spain tops its 2012 European Championship qualifying group after

three straight wins but is winless in three friendlies since its

1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final in South Africa,

including a 4-1 loss to Argentina in September.

”It’s worrying what happened in Argentina and then today,”

striker Fernando Llorente said. ”We played badly and we lacked

intensity in all aspects. A grim day.”

The last time Spain lost 4-0 was to Italy in 1942.

While Spain controlled much of the first half through its usual

quick-touch passing game, it eventually succumbed to a hungrier

Portugal led by the pacy Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on the

flanks.

Spain’s midfield and defense was slow to react, especially in

the second half as Portugal scored three times from counterattacks

after Carlos Martins closed the first half with the opener.

El Mundo wrote Spain appeared as if it had shown up at the

less-than-capacity Stadium of Light only to do its part for the

Iberian neighbors’ joint-2018 World Cup bid.

”We didn’t properly motivate the players and they played with

little intensity,” Del Bosque said. ”We need to play with more

intensity in friendlies.”

Before a 1-1 friendly draw at Mexico in August, Spain had lost

only twice in 55 matches in all competitions – a streak that dated

to February 2007.

While Xavi Hernandez reached 99 games, captain Iker Casillas

allowed four goals for the first time in 116 appearances for Spain.

Neither David Villa nor Fernando Torres created any danger in

attack.

”Our rivals are well-motivated to play against the world

champion. But that shouldn’t serve as an excuse,” Del Bosque said.

”We need to learn not to live off of the World Cup success.”