Spanish media play blame game for World Cup exit

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MOSCOW, July 2 (Xinhua) -- As the Spanish national team prepares to fly home and their fans begin their retreat from Moscow, the Spanish media have already begun to pass comment on their side's exit from the 2018 World Cup finals at the hands of host nation Russia.

The Barcelona based "Diario Sport" headline read "Que Pena," which means literally "what a shame", but is also a play on words over the exit in the penalty shootout, and says Spain went "out of the World Cup after a dreadful game against Russia", while El Mundo Deportivo also uses the 'Pena' wordplay saying it was "maximum pain" and that "Spain went home after 120 minutes of very little football and the inability to score a goal."

Superdeporte has a photo of Real Madrid President Florentino Perez on its front page with the question: "Satisfied?"

"Spain had a 'siesta' for 80 minutes and didn't have any luck in extra time," said the paper.

Marca describes the Spain side as "a side without pace, without depth and without joy and with a sterile domination of the ball."

In a country where Perez's influence is long reaching, perhaps a paper with its base in Valencia rather than Madrid is the only one willing to say what many are thinking: that Real Madrid, who are supposed to be the most Spanish and patriotic of clubs, are the ones ultimately behind Spain's downfall. 

Spain completed over 1,000 passes in their game against the Russians, yet their only goal was an own goal following a set piece, prompting sports daily Marca to criticize the lack of energy and pace in what was ultimately a sterile passing game with the headline: "Walking home."

The paper "Superdeporte" looks elsewhere to cast the blame, looking back to Real Madrid's announcement they had signed Julen Lopetegui as their new coach just two days before the tournament started, leading to Lopetegui's sacking and his last-minute replacement by Fernando Hierro.

Diario AS looks at the age of several key players in the Spain side, such as Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, as well as Sergio Ramos and says the defeat means "the end of a generation" of players who gave Spain their greatest-ever success eight years ago.

By Paul Giblin