End of an Era for Spain: Casillas, Alonso, Xavi and Villa Set to Depart

Overhaul in sight after Spain's disastrous World Cup campaign
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Spain's Iniesta, Torres and Casillas walk off the pitch at the end of their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match in Rio de Janeiro
(L-R) Spain's Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas walk off the pitch at the end of their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match against Chile at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

With Casillas, Xavi, David Villa and Xabi Alonso set to depart, what's next for The Spanish National Team?  After a disastrous campaign to defend their World Cup title from South Africa 2010, The Spanish team and Coach Vicente Del Bosque have a lot to think about. The team lost their first two games against Netherlands and Chile in their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil stint.

In fact, by the time they were eliminated after two games, they did not even score a single goal in open play with their lone goal coming off a penalty during the opening match against the Netherlands which they lost 5-1. A little bit of pride was restored with a 3-0 win over Australia in their final match but the effort was in vain as they had already dug a hole for themselves which left it impossible to advance.

The Spanish team won the 2010 World Cup title and two back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 with pretty much the same roster of players. The 2014 World Cup campaign featured a few tweaks such as the exclusion of Fernando Llorente in favour of Diego Costa after a successful title-winning season with Atlético Madrid. Alvaro Arbeloa was also left out for Azpilicueta. Otherwise, the core of the team is centred around the key players involved in winning the three previous titles. The question is what went so horribly wrong?

Sergio Ramos and Del Bosque Defend Casillas

Fingers were pointed all around with goalkeeper Iker Casillas taking most of the blame. The rest of the team showed poor form as well and coaching strategies were put into question. Del Bosque insisted that no harsh actions will be taken regarding the future of the team. However, if there's any indication of what's to come, the team's farewell game in the group stage against Australia featured Pepe Reina on goal instead of Iker Casillas. At already 31 years of age, this was his first start in three World Cup campaigns mostly spent sitting on the bench. He was forever the bridesmaid to Casillas and now that he's getting older, he might have to play a secondary role to Manchester United's David De Gea in future tournaments.

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Xavi Hernandez also did not feature in the match against Australia but this was reportedly due to an injury. He has announced his departure from Barcelona next season and this is likely to spell the end of his international career as well. Xabi Alonso also warmed the bench as Koke took to the field in his wake.

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Gerard Pique also failed to impress during the tournament and is likely to be replaced. With Alvaro Arbeloa left out from the squad, it looks like an entire new defensive line might be needed. Casillas was made to pay for lapses in defence when he was left on several occasions to defend his goal all by his lonesome with hardly any support from his backline.

Andres Iniesta was able to show a few glimpses of the former glory and genius of the national team but his partner Xabi Alonso failed to shine and while still playing well, Iniesta is already 30 years old and would need new players around him to continue to be effective and even then only for very much longer. David Villa made an appearance against Australia and was brilliant despite the futility of his efforts.

Over-all, the Spanish team has come to the end of the road and a major overhaul is in order. The fate of Vicente Del Bosque is also on the line. With several youngsters now enjoying more first team exposure in their respective clubs, the next season is one to watch and Del Bosque or whoever ends up at the helm of the team will e keeping his eyes peeled for the potential keys to the rebirth of La Roja. 

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