Spain finished their Euro 2016 participation with a 2-0 loss to Italy in the last-16 round of the tournament.
For the fourth consecutive match, Vicente del Bosque fielded the same starting line-up. After a disappointing first half, Spain trailed 1-0 and looked unable to break Italy’s high press or react to Daniele De Rossi’s influence on proceedings.
The Spaniards reacted after half-time, dominating ball possession but struggling to create scoring chances. Right after Gianluigi Buffon saved Gerard Pique’s effort in the 88th minute, Italy scored on the break and finished off the match.
With this loss, Spain will not be able to defend their back-to-back titles from 2008 and 2012, in what was likely coach Del Bosque’s and goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ last tournament with the national team.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK David De Gea, 6 — Kept Spain in the match with a handful of fantastic saves, but failed to block a few mid-range shots, one of them leading to Giorgio Chiellini’s opener. Never his usual, composed self in this tournament.
DF Juanfran, 5 — For a player whose main feature is his reliability, his performance was full of ups and downs. A terrible first half, a decent 25 minutes in the second, and an underwhelming final 20.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 — Bailed out his teammates more than once in last second tackles, but suffered mightily against Graziano Pelle and was brutally burned by Eder in the second half. Had the chance to draw level, but Buffon made his own legendary status a bit bigger with a great save.
DF Sergio Ramos, 4 — Hesitant, slow and careless with the ball during the first half, improved after the break, but was only dominant in aerial balls offensively. Another untimely foul by Ramos generated Italy’s first. Poor tournament by the Real Madrid skipper.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 — Rarely appeared going forward in a match that required his runs. Suffered less than his teammates defensively.
MF Sergio Busquets, 4 — For a man of his tactical acumen, it took a full 45 minutes for him to realise that he should get closer to the centre-backs to build up plays from the back. He was never influential in the match and saw De Rossi dominate midfield for most of the game.
MF Andres Iniesta, 5 — The tiny maestro looked a bit slower than usual in his decision-making, perhaps missing Busquets’ usual help. This lack of speed passed onto the rest of the team. Could not put his stamp onto the match. A shame that Spain have wasted Iniesta’s best form ever in a tournament.
MF David Silva, 4 — Great intent, mediocre execution from the usually inspirational midfielder. Perhaps a bit excessive by Del Bosque to bring him in after his injury and play him in all four matches.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 4 — Similarly to Silva and Iniesta, he failed to maintain a high passing tempo, retained the ball too much and never found the final pass.
FW Nolito, 5 — Never understood what his right positioning should be. Rather than opening Italy’s defence playing wide, kept moving towards the middle, colliding with Fabregas and Silva. Not inspired at all.
FW Alvaro Morata, 4 — Never able to free himself from his Juventus’ teammates, looked like both Italy’s centre-backs and the match were too big for him.
FW Aritz Aduriz, 6 — Replaced Nolito at the break. Fought well up front and helped to push Italy towards their goal, but was unlucky to pick up an injury and had to be replaced.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 — Replaced Morata after 69 minutes. Looked one speed faster and with much more hunger than the rest of the team.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, NR — Replaced Aduriz after 81 minutes.
Eduardo is a football analyst for ESPN FC, BBC Sportsworld and Radio Marca. He’s been a Real Madrid socio since 1995. Follow him on Twitter @alvarez.