The 2014 FIFA World Cup ended in disaster for defending champions Spain. Their final group stage match will not feature goalkeeper Iker Casillas nor Xavi Hernandez.. The match against Australia will bear no weight in the competition since they have been mathematically eliminated after losing their first two matches,
The 2010 winners opened their campaign in Brazil with a 5-1 thrashing from the Netherlands and failed to get redemption and effectively ended their title defence with a 2-0 defeat from Chile in their second match.
National team captain Iker Casillas faced a lot of criticism at the end of both matches but was defended by coach Vicente del Bosque. Spain conceded a total of seven goals in only two games.
Spain will face Australia in their final group stage match effectively only for show and to bid the World Cup good bye. Del Bosque has announced that Pepe Reina will be playing in place of Casillas and Xavi Hernandez will stay on the bench on account of a slight muscular problem.
In a report on FiFA's official website, Del Bosque still refuses to blame the poor results on the veterans alone stating that Reina will be given the opportunity to clock in minutes while Xavi will stay on the bench due to his injury and not because of poor performance.
"I don't think one game more or less is going to give him more recognition than he already has..He was the player that covered the most ground from both teams in the game against the Netherlands. They talk about renovation and marginalising the veterans, as if we have failed purely because of them. It is everyone who has lost together, but our recognition of Xavi remains huge."
Pepe Reina who will be replacing Casillas for the final match, is still determined to end the World Cup on a high. At 31 years of age, Reina is already a veteran of the national team but this will be his first World Cup appearance due largely to Casillas and his stellar performance in previous tournaments taking Spain to a World Cup title and two European Championship titles.
"It is the dream of any player to play in a World Cup. I wish it could be in different circumstances but the only thing we can't change is that we can't qualify. I don't think we are going to change the opinion of the people a lot because we are already out, but we want to end the competition in the most dignified way possible."