Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso says his country’s dominance of world football is over after the defending champions’ shock World Cup exit in Brazil.
“We didn’t know how to maintain our hunger or that conviction needed to win a tournament,” said the 32-year-old Real Madrid midfielder.
“The joy and success we’ve experienced is over.”
On Tuesday, the former Liverpool man claimed media reports that the current generation were past their best were “a little exaggerated”, but speaking after their latest loss, he said: “Normally cycles come to an end after a defeat.
“Maybe it would be best to think about making changes.”
Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque says there will be consequences of his side’s exit and hinted his six-year reign as national boss may be coming to an end.
“It’s true that when such things happen during a World Cup or a tournament such things have consequences,” he said.
“We have time to analyse that and it is not the right time now. There will be time to think and reflect what we are going to do.
“I think this team is good but we have to take a decision about what is good for Spanish football and that applies to myself as well.”
He said his side were “sluggish and not brave enough” in the 2-0 loss to Chile, while captain Iker Casillas admitted that “the commitment wasn’t there”.
“From the very first moment everything went awry,” said the goalkeeper.
Spain went into the tournament having triumphed at their last three major tournaments – the European Championships of 2008 and 2012, and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
But La Roja’s campaign in Brazil got off to a humiliating start when the Dutch came from behind to rout them in their opening game and when they succumbed to two first-half goals by Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz at the Maracana on Wednesday, their reign as champions came to an abrupt halt.
On Monday, Spain face Australia, also eliminated after a 3-2 defeat by the Netherlands, in a battle to avoid finishing bottom of the group, while conquerors Chile take on the Dutch for top spot in Group B.
The South American side’s coach Jorge Sampaoli had some sympathy for Spain and described his side as the “rebels” of the tournament.
“In football everything changes,” said the Argentine.
“Spain has played very well over the years and had wonderful performances but today that generation of players couldn’t keep that success going, and that’s normal because success is not forever.”
He added: “We have a chance to see if this is the best Chile team ever but that is something we can only say after the tournament is over.
“We were very courageous in the way that we played and you could say that we are the rebels of this tournament.”