Defending champion Spain, Australia first eliminations in World Cup

IMAGE, FIFA.COM

For the third time since 2002, a defending World Cup winner has been eliminated in the group stage of the tournament.

Spain bows out in just their second match in Brazil, dropping a 2-0 result against Chile. That follows a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Netherlands to open the tournament. Their negative six goal differential nearly guarantees that Spain will be at the bottom of the Group — bested by fellow ousted nation, Australia.

Both Holland and Chile advance with six points garnered against their departed rivals.

Spain joins the defending 1998 World Cup winning French side and the 2006 Italian champions that fell in Group stage competition during the 2002 and 2010 tournaments, respectively.

Their sudden crash out of the World Cup signifies the end of one of the most vibrant footballing reigns of recent memory. Not only were La Furia 2010 World Cup Champions, but they were also the 2008 and 2012 UEFA Champions, the 2013 Confederation Cup runner-up and the FIFA team of the year — six years running.

Joining them in this unenviable honor is Tim Cahill’s Australia. Despite playing a vibrant match against the Netherlands with a 2-1 lead in hand, the Socceroos succumbed to pressure, allowing a pair of goals in the second half that nullified their lead, and ultimately left them out of the tournament.

That will be good news for Major League Soccer’s Red Bulls. New York continues league play on June 27th. Cahill is already out of the final Australia encounter of the Group thanks to yellow card accumulation. He should be fit and ready for Toronto FC at the end of the month.

That, of course, is the last thing on the mind of Australia at the moment.

For both Spain and Australia, the journey to 2018 begins today.