Defending champions of the World Cup, Team Spain faced the Chilean team in Maracana stadium on Wednesday and shocked the soccer community. Chile scored the first goal at 19 minutes into the match, setting the stage for their victory. Spain gave up another point to Chile at almost 43 minutes immediately after a blocked shot. Charles Aranguiz immediately recovered the keeper’s deflection and sent it past him to the left side of the goal. After Chile’s second goal Spain had no choice but to score three more while keeping Chile at bay if it wished to advance, a draw would not cut it. Despite the pressing need and close attempts however, Spain did not manage to get a single goal in by the end of the match. Spanish fans had high hopes for this team who had already proved themselves. The team was feared and respected, but turned in a second game performance that many barely seemed competent. While Spain made mistakes Chile was on a roll, a perfect storm for an upset. Some fans are chalking up the defeat to simple exhaustion after Spain’s rigorous club season and that seems as reasonable an explanation for not playing up to their reputation as any.
In South Africa in 2010, Spain beat Chile after Honduras and then Portugal, Paraguay, and Germany to reach the final match against the Netherlands. Spain earned the 2010 World Cup with a single goal in the last few minutes of its match with the Netherlands. This year in Brazil Spain was defeated 5-1 in its first game, ironically against the Netherlands. Nothing could be a more fitting omen of the defeat to come for the defending champions. Never before has a team of former champions lost by such a wide margin, and this was also the first time that previous finalists faced each other in the World Cup’s first stage.
Chile’s standout players were Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz, both delivering in key moments. Vargas scored Chile’s first goal at 19 minutes off of an assist sent by Aranguiz and then at about 43 minutes Aranguiz sent in the second goal himself. Both men held down the midfield between goals and rightly trusted their keeper and defensemen to hold off Spain.
Unfortunately not everyone connected to the Chilean team succeeded so gracefully. Before the match even began 85 fans of the Chilean team were apprehended by military police after breaking down barriers and storming into the stadium without tickets. After breaking the barrier and before making it anywhere near the seats the mob destroyed a media center in the stadium. Needless to say these fans did not get to enjoy the Chilean victory as they were in custody. This is the second such incursion by fans of this 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Tournament security has been able to control the situations fairly well, but many fans remain as rabid as ever. Hopefully the sportsmanship of all of the participating World Cup teams can inspire the international fans to obey the laws set in place and keep each other safe. Spain may have been defending champions disappointingly defeated, but no doubt they hope that all World Cup fans will stay safe and choose to enjoy the riveting games yet to come instead of fighting police and destroying property in Brazilian cities.
Commentary by Matt Isaacs