CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Goalkeeper Pepe Reina is fed up with all the talk surrounding Spain’s shock defeat to the Netherlands.
Is this team’s golden run over, is it the end of a cycle for the World Cup champions?
“I’m tired of this question, tired of it man,” Reina said with certain exasperation during an interview with The Associated Press from Spain’s training base.
Did the team thoroughly review the 5-1 loss to the Dutch in preparation of Wednesday’s must-win Group B match against Chile?
“We only talked about it, we didn’t watch it again. We’re not masochists,” Reina said.
Despite all the continued questions hanging over Spain, Reina concedes the inquisition being waged is justified after the team’s disappointing performance in Salvador.
“It is logical that when things go wrong people think that way. But we will try to reverse that notion so there won’t be an end of an era. And to make people feel more optimistic,” Reina told the AP. “I don’t think this team is dead. This team is not finished.”
Those are the kind of words from players that Spanish supporters need to hear after the team’s capitulation against the Netherlands produced its worst competitive defeat in 64 years.
Spain now has the chance to bounce back at the Maracana, where it lost 6-1 to Brazil at the 1950 World Cup.
Inside the locker room, Spain is grappling with its toughest crisis since it began an unprecedented run in the summer of 2008 with consecutive European Championships around its first World Cup.
The performances of regulars like Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, and Xavi Hernandez are all being questioned.
Reina, who has been a regular backup to Casillas during this successful period, does not expect to start ahead of Casillas despite the Real Madrid goalkeeper’s worst match in 155 appearances for the national team.
Reina said spirits were still high despite the demoralizing defeat which saw Spain start its second straight World Cup with a loss to open group play.
“This is football, you can also lose. You just have to grit your teeth and rebound,” said Reina, who has made 31 appearances for Spain. “The only possibility we have is to win.”
Spain must not only win, it must pile on the goals. Its poor goal differential will not help if teams finish equal on competition points.
“It’s going to be a hard time. They are a tough team, they work a lot and hard. They have always created problems for us,” Reina said of Chile. “But we trust in ourselves. We depend on ourselves. If we are feeling good, if we have the best version of Spain, we can do it.”
One concern for the Spanish is if their World Cup fate comes down to winning their last group match against Australia while waiting on the result of the Netherlands vs. Chile match if those teams were in a position to prevent Spain from advancing.
“I don’t think the Dutch will change their ways, we trust in them,” the 31-year-old Reina said. “This is the World Cup, people always want to win.”
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