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Luis Aragones Criticizes Spain World Cup Team

Luis Aragones Spain World Cup

PAUL LOGOTHETIS   06/17/10 12:45 PM ET   AP

DURBAN, South Africa — A popular pick to make the World Cup finals, Spain is now feeling the heat as it looks to survive the group stage of the tournament.

Former national coach Luis Aragones criticized the team's tactics after its shocking 1-0 upset loss to Switzerland on Wednesday, adding that a lackadaisical start didn't help.

"There wasn't enough conviction to go and seize the game from the opening second," said Aragones, who led Spain to its European Championship triumph in 2008.

"We lacked speed off the ball, and we didn't look for open space well enough."

Aragones did not agree with successor Vicente del Bosque's decision to play both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets in midfield, with both players often hanging back – especially Busquets, who is a defensive player.

"The better team didn't win, just the better organized one," Aragones said after the match.

Del Bosque sought to defuse the situation, saying that he "totally respects" Aragones' opinions.

"Not one bad word will escape my mouth about" him, Del Bosque said. "There is only one Spain – not one Del Bosque one and another Aragones one."

The coach added that "everyone has the right to express their own opinions. He's a person that knows this group of players. He's worked with them and has achieved success."

Spain now goes into Monday's game against Honduras in a position it never expected to find itself, after becoming the seventh European champion in nine World Cups to lose its opening game.

"We need to pick ourselves up," Del Bosque said. "You need to respond."

It won't be easy. Now the Swiss and Chile are tied for the lead in Group H with three points. And if Spain sneaks into the knockout round in second place, its most likely opponent would be the other tournament favorite, Brazil.

Just as the United States did a year ago, the Swiss hunkered down to stifle Spain's offensive chances and struck on the counterattack. The Spanish expect more of the same in the next two games.

"The team didn't create as many chances as usual, but it dominated the play," midfielder Xavi Hernandez said. "The ball just didn't go in. We weren't decisive enough around the goal. That was the story of the game."

Xavi was not as game-changing as he can be, but Del Bosque preferred to stick with the Barcelona midfielder with Cesc Fabregas on the bench. Fernando Torres is likely to partner with David Villa up front after making an immediate impact after coming on for the last hour, which would mean one less player in midfield.

In Spain, the result left a mixed trail of reaction.

Sports daily Marca labeled the set back a "Dose of Humility," while El Mundo called it "A Nightmare Start."

"These things happen," Xavi said. "You need to stay calm and keep working the same way because it still depends on us."


Filed by Whitney Snyder  |