CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Spain doesn't expect its poor showing at the World Cup to take the fear out of opponents. That includes Australia, its opponent in its last Group B match.
Spain's early exit from Brazil will likely drop it from the top spot in the FIFA rankings after it was ousted from the World Cup earlier than any previous defending champion.
Monday's match at the Arena da Baixada could be the start of Spain's rebuilding process, or the extension of a decline that began with a 5-1 loss to the Netherlands and was followed by a 2-0 loss to Chile.
"I don't know if opponents have the same respect for us or not," Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina said on Sunday. "But Spain will always be respected for its philosophy of play. We've earned it. "
Spain had been almost untouchable in world football since its Euro 2008 triumph in Vienna, where the Iberian country ended a 44-year period without a major trophy marked by a history of underachievement.
It went on to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa before defending its European Championship in emphatic fashion with a 4-0 victory over Italy in the final.
The Spanish squad arrived in South America seemingly ready to continue the roll, with its Real Madrid players having won the Champions League at the expense of its Atletico Madrid, which at least lifted the domestic title.