Diego Maradona believes Spain's tiki-taka approach is dead and says its style has been exposed on the back of a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Netherlands.
Spain was undone by the Dutch counterattack in Salvador, with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie both scoring twice and Stefan De Vrij adding another as Louis van Gaal's side recovered from falling behind to Xabi Alonso's first-half penalty. And Maradona believes Vicente del Bosque has been guilty of failing to heed the warnings of Barcelona's struggles this season, resulting in Friday's capitulation.
"That the Spanish team has been ageing became evident when they lined up for their opening Group B clash against The Netherlands," the 53-year-Argentina legend wrote in his column for the Time of India. "Spain have been playing tiki-taka for quite some time now. It's a wonderful way of playing football, and fans and experts from all over the world have wholeheartedly shown their affection for this brand of game. It won them three consecutive big tournaments from 2008 to 2012.
"But [Vicente del Bosque] should have kept in mind that clubs in Europe have found an answer to Barcelona's style, which is very similar to what their national team plays. A fast-paced policy based on counterattacks has worked well against them. Spain have refused to change despite critics repeatedly pointing out that their style has been exposed."
La Roja suffered the worst defeat by a defending champion in the first game of a World Cup, and only their second loss in 55 games, prompting Maradona to praise the Netherlands for the way it went about the match.
"The Oranje once again revolutionized modern football," the 1986 World Cup winner said. "Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were in great rhythm and their brilliance was too much for the reigning champions.
"The Spanish defense had no clue. Neither was Iker Casillas at his best under the bar. Louis van Gaal did a fantastic job with a relatively young Dutch side that gave their all against the world champions and earned an astounding victory. It should help them avoid Brazil in the second round."