CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was struggling Sunday to answer just why his team had endured failure at a major tournament for the first time in eight years.
Spain heads home after Monday's Group B match against Australia as the first defending champion to be knocked out of the tournament after just two games. Spain has won consecutive European Championships around the 2010 edition since exiting the World Cup in the first knockout stage to France in 2006.
Four days on from a 2-0 loss to Chile that left it unable to progress into the elimination stage, Spain was still trying to figure out where it all went wrong before Monday's Group B final at the Arena da Baixada stadium.
"We leave with a taste in our mouths of not having met expectations," Del Bosque said before attempting to underline the reason for Spain's earliest exit from a major tournament since Euro 2004 when it was also knocked from the group stage.
"It comes down to a number of things. In the physical, tactical, and coaching aspects, we were inferior to the two rivals we played. It's hard to deduct the one reason since it comes down to a number of reasons. It's been a surprise, a surprise for everybody."
Spain is last in Group B, behind Australia on goal difference, due to the 5-1 loss against the Netherlands in its opener.
Del Bosque, normally a diplomatic figure, had even pointed some blame at his player said earlier Sunday in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Cuatro when he said: "I always think about the collective and the players only think about themselves."