Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Final curtain falls on Spain's celebrated 'tika-taka' generation

Final curtain falls on Spain's celebrated 'tika-taka' generation

With his precise passes and clever playmaking, Iniesta was a key piece of the Spanish team that dominated soccer not so long ago.

Hierro, a former Spain and Real Madrid great, revealed he would be sticking to the blueprint which had seen Spain go unbeaten in 20 games under Lopetegui.

It was a pity that the last match of Andres Iniesta, who later confirmed his worldwide retirement, in the end became little more than a footnote. "Sometimes the endings are not as one dreams".

Iniesta started on the bench on Monday (AEST), coming on midway through the second half as Spain attempted to retake the lead cancelled out by Artem Dzyuba's spot-kick, but could not inspire a victory. His presence helped Spain improve, giving it more depth in midfield, but it wasn't enough for the team to break the deadlock.

Russian Federation came into the tournament derided by their own supporters after a string of defeats in warm-up matches but they thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opener and then swept aside Egypt 3-1, making even their own skeptical public believe. "The coach makes the decisions and from that some agree and others don't". The main thing is that we bring joy not only to the fans but also to the leaders.

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The Soviets beat Hungary in 1966 end went on to finish fourth in England but their last appearance in the quarter-finals came in 1970.

However, it wasn't to be - following Spain's surprise round of 16 elimination at the hands of the tournament hosts; and following the heartbreak of returning empty handed, Iniesta has called time on his career at worldwide level.

During that time, Spain won two European Championships and one World Cup as the golden generation of Spanish players performed heroics in three consecutive tournaments. At 34, and already the match-winner in the final eight years ago, the former Barcelona midfielder announced his worldwide retirement immediately afterwards. A one-club man until that point, he has signed for Japanese top-flight team Vissel Kobe.

Except for their first match against Portugal in which they played like the Spain of old, they looked like a team completely out of ideas and running on empty.

However, 32-year-old Ramos said he plans to keep adding to his tally of 156 senior worldwide caps, and told reporters in the Luzhniki stadium mixed zone that he was positive about the younger players coming through the ranks.

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