MADRID (AP) — Football fans in Spain were in shock Saturday after watching the national team's 5-1 humiliation in its World Cup opener against the Netherlands.
It was Spain's worst defeat in 64 years and comes after "La Roja" — as the team is nicknamed after its red shirts — had dominated world soccer since 2008 with consecutive European Championships and a World Cup win in South Africa.
"Disaster," said leading newspaper El Pais on Saturday while El Mundo rated the performance a "Humiliation" and La Vanguardia called it "A failure."
City streets, accustomed to noisy celebrations after Spain wins, were eerily quiet after Friday's rout as fans filed silently out of bars.
Some refused to accept it meant the end of an era but others called for the coach to make radical changes.
"We now have to lift ourselves up, or at least to try and do so," said salesman Martin Valero, 25. "It's no big deal, last World Cup we also began with a defeat but went on to win," he said.
However, the first-game stumble in the 2010 World Cup was a 1-0 defeat against Switzerland in a meeting where Spain was dominant.
Coach Vicente del Bosque's side appeared to struggle in the humid heat of Salvador before collapsing altogether in the second half, with captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas looking disoriented after conceding repeatedly.
"It's evident there is exhaustion and fatigue there," said hotel worker Antonio Azcona, 46. "Del Bosque needs to allow new blood in and bench (Gerard) Pique, Xavi (Hernandez) and Casillas."
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