Photo: Denis Doyle (Getty)

World Cup failures Spain took on World Cup runners-up Croatia yesterday in a match in the new and sort of confusing UEFA Nations League. You might not totally get what the Nations League is (here’s a quick primer) but there are some things you should know about the Spain-Croatia match itself: 1) it was a legitimate competitive match, as opposed to a meaningless friendly 2) both teams played with very strong starting lineups 3) it resulted in a 6-0 landslide victory for Spain; and, most importantly, 4) the fact that Spain won by such a huge margin should inspire little more than unalloyed rage in anyone who cares about La Roja.

Normally, pummeling a really good team the way Spain did Croatia would be cause for celebration. And Spain and the Spaniards that comprise the national team do deserve praise for how comprehensively they crushed this great and proud Croatia squad. It was an absolute bloodbath:

Part of Spain really should feel good about how well their new manager’s slightly tweaked tactics have already paid dividends, and how their young, outrageously talented, preposterously deep player pool allows them to be so dominant in almost any and all conditions, and how the group seems to have shrugged off the abject failure that was their World Cup showing and are eager to prove their real worth. But mostly Spain should feel unending contempt for the morons in charge of the team who entered the past World Cup with arguably the tournament’s single biggest swinging dick and just shot the thing off by firing manager Julen Lopetegui out of pettiness and pride.

It’s hard to see Marco Asensio’s three assists, one goal, and one caused own goal and think anything other than, Man this Asensio kid is a star; too bad the superb national team coach who had done so well cultivating his talent was unceremoniously fired literally days before the biggest sporting event in world history just because the megalomaniacal soccer federation president is a haughty dipshit! 

If you found yourself impressed with how effective new manager Luis Enrique’s a-touch-more-direct playing style proved to be, you probably also found yourself thinking, You know, maybe Spain should’ve adopted a more direct approach at some point during the actual World Cup when their slower Plan A wasn’t working, and maybe if the powers that be hadn’t shit-canned the team’s really good manager for no goddamn reason at all and replaced him with a clueless empty suit, the team would’ve had someone in the dugout capable of implementing that change! 

Watching the effortless way Isco and Thiago and Asensio and Saúl combined with each other to knit together gorgeous, free-flowing attacks at will was a joy, and it was a shame how quickly that feeling of wonder was overwhelmed by one of frustration as your brain shouted at you HOLY SHIT, SPAIN ARE REALLY OUT HERE RUNNING CIRCLES AROUND THE TEAM THAT JUST GOT TO THE FINAL OF A WIDE-OPEN WORLD CUP AND THE ONLY REASON THEY DIDN’T DO THIS SAME THING BACK WHEN IT MATTERED IS BECAUSE THE PUNCTILIOUS OAF IN CHARGE OF THE NATIONAL TEAM COULDN’T COUNTENANCE THE SLIGHTEST OF BRUSHES AGAINST HIS MASSIVE EGO AND WENT AHEAD AND RUINED THIS GLORIOUS TEAM’S CHANCE AT IMMORTALITY, WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON HERE!!!!

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So yes, Spain looked great on Tuesday, and their immediate and long-term futures are both blindingly bright. And no, Croatia weren’t quite at full strength yesterday, and there’s no guarantee Spain would’ve beaten them and everybody else at the World Cup even if they hadn’t pointed a blunderbuss at their own dick and squeezed the trigger. (Also: yes, Lopetegui and Real Madrid handled the process of hiring Lope for the Madrid job pretty poorly.) But the main reason Spain’s miserable recent-past didn’t look more like their brilliant present is due to the lunkheaded decision-making of an impetuous bureaucrat, and it’s nearly impossible for any of the many positives of this new-look Spain to blot out the brain-melting thoughts of what could’ve—should’ve—been.