Jose Mourinho says Spain were so uncompromising in their belief in the tiki-taka philosophy that it was inevitable opponents would eventually figure out how to beat them.
The reigning world and double-European champions crashed out of the World Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 defeat to Chile, whose high-pressing game is a more intense variation of the model that led la Roja to such success in the past.
And with that result coming on the back of their 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the Netherlands, Chelsea coach Mourinho believes the rest of the world eventually worked them out.
“People learn how to play against the best teams and when the best teams always play believing that their philosophy is the [best] one, the other people learn,” Mourinho told Yahoo Sport.
“They did what I think in modern football you have to do – you have to be strategic. Netherlands and Chile were very good from a strategic point of view and Spain couldn’t cope with it.
“Spain was so amazing in the last 4-6 years. They were so amazing in the way they played football that people learned, people studied [them].
"Louis Van Gaal was brilliant in the way he analysed and played the game against Spain. But Sampaoli was even more [so].
"I think we have to be fair and instead of saying that Spain didn’t play well [against Chile] – which I agree with – we have to say congratulations to the coach.”
Spain’s exit means the last four World Cups have seen three reigning champions eliminated in the first round after France and Italy finished bottom of their groups in 2002 and 2006 respectively.