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An Olympic failure

The Spanish football team crash out of London 2012 after being unable to beat Honduras in their second match.

Spain went into the Olympics on the back of a debate as to whether they or the Brazilians were the favourites. But once the ball was in play it soon put the Spaniards in their place. That place being out of the competition. Two defeats, to Japan and to Honduras. Two hammer blows, but both deserved. There can be no complaints about their rivals' victories; but there is everything to criticise the Spanish team for. Only in the last half hour, when everything was lost, did the team rise to the level expected of them.

Up to that point, when they were staring right into the dark barrel of the loaded gun the team was soulless, anxious, and incapable of playing football. They lacked the stylish touch that has made the Spanish football team so dominant. The ball went from side to side, with all the excitement of someone filling out a form. There is no art in doing that.

It can't be denied that the team had fight and pride, and these somewhat compensated for the lack of thought and lucidity, which are normally the mark of identity of the group. It could be said that luck turned its back on Spain, with the woodwork hit three times and a clear penalty on Rodrigo that the Venezuelan ref Soto ignored. But these reasons aren't enough to excuse the enormity of this failure, the disappointment of leaving the Olympic games without scoring a goal in the first two games.

Tonight Spain were unsure of themselves on the ball and out of sorts, they played blindly and fell to pieces with the first punch they took. Until the break they were incapable of finding answers on the pitch and even less so of finding them on the bench.

With only seven minutes gone Spain were fighting not to stay in the game, but in the Olympics. A good pass from Espinoza and Bengtson was faster to the header than Jordi Alba. A first attempt at goal from Honduras and Spain had a mountain to climb. Up to that point Spain had taken the initivative, seeing more of the ball, but doing little of significance, their play lacking substance and being far too obvious.

The outlook in the first 25 minutes was desolate for Spain. They appeared to missing a midfield. Javi Martínez trivial, Koke overwhelmed by the situation, Isco missing, Mata active but all over the place and Muniain offering himself to everyone, but never arriving anywhere. In front of them Adrián was unnoticed, not receiving the ball and hardly taking part in the match. At the back it was almost worse, with the defence as nervous and uncertain as De Gea.

Honduras only had to maintain order in their ranks and organise their players in order to cancel Spain out. Too simple, too easy. The Central Americans barely gave away two chances before half time; two Mata chances that grazed the goal.

Milla looked to gain control of the game with the entrance of Ander Herrera for Koke, but found instead that Mata and Muniain had decided to team up together, refusing to leave the Olympics in such a pathetic manner. The footballers took the initiative, took control, and went on the attack, smothering Honduras. For their part Spain's rivals had now disappeared as an attacking force, their last move of note before the chaotic final minutes Espinoza's header against the post in minute 50.

Spain finally responded to the situation with pride and quality, and the chances started flooding in at the same rate as the puff left the Hondurans' lungs, exhausted and terrified at the thought of letting a historic triumph escape.

Adrián hit the crossbar, Muniain the post, a cracking header from Rodrigo obliged Mendoza, a good keeper indeed, to make the best save of the night, and Rodrigo, again, put the ball against the bar with a header, when it was easier to fire it into the back of the net. At the close it was a lack of precision that did for Spain, though the damage had been done much earlier.

Estadísticas AS.com