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‘They took our leader away’ – how Spain’s World Cup unravelled | Sid Lowe

They never recovered from Julen Lopetegui’s sacking and Russia defeat sparked a debate on whether tiki-taka’s era is over

“Yes, it’s over”, Andrés Iniesta said on his way out, leaving the World Cup and the Spain team for the last time. “Sometimes goodbyes are not the way you want them to be.” Sometimes, though, they are the way you expect. It was easy to say now, listening to him talk as slowly and sadly as Spain had played at the Luzhniki Stadium but, while the pessimism was repressed and rarely expressed publicly, deep down they knew the chances of this ending in defeat were high. There were tears, Sergio Ramos’s voice breaking as he insisted that it was “extremely hard to take”, yet the flight back to Krasnodar was not funereal. They had been prepared for this from the beginning.

Related: Tiki-taxi for Spain as style becomes vice against Russia’s rearguard | Barney Ronay

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