Madrid: Spain’s press on Wednesday bemoaned a “major flop” in their 1-1 World Cup qualifier draw against France, criticising serious weaknesses in midfield and defence that led to France’s last-gasp equaliser.
“Major flop,” headlined the top-selling sports paper Marca. “Collapse,” said Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo. “Spain were not Spain,” was the verdict of leading newspaper El Pais.
The big sports titles did not mince their words in describing La Roja’s performance in the World Cup qualifier after Spain started well only to be outplayed by France in the second half.
The draw, played in Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium, brought to an end Spain’s run of 24 consecutive wins in qualifying matches that stretches back to 2007.
It leaves the two sides level at the top of the group on seven points, three ahead of Georgia.
“The worst version of Spain in a long time leads to serious consequences,” said Marca, adding that the draw means Spain will have it all to do when the two sides meet again in Paris in March.
Rival Madrid-based sports daily AS was equally unforgiving. “Throughout the second half, Spain, disorganised and almost in panic, were at the mercy of France.”
Spanish papers slammed Sergio Busquets’ absence in the midfield and an average performance in defence, and in particular Juanfran Torres who lost the ball in midfield to allow France to score in the dying minutes.
“Without the Busquets-Xabi Alonso duo in midfield, La Roja is not the same,” said Marca.
“After a good start, Spain gambled with the result,” added El Pais.
Alfredo Relano, the director of AS, criticised Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque’s decision to bring on former Atletico Madrid player Fernando Torres towards the end of the match.
“Del Bosque played politics by bringing in Torres at his old stadium when he should have tightened the game with Javi Martinez,” he said.
But the criticisms were also mixed with praise for France’s mindset in the second half.
“After the break, France played decisively and were woken out of their slumber,” El Pais said.
AS took the most optimistic view of the result: “Mission: win in Paris,” the paper headlined.