Raul: Spain's standard will be hard to beat

The former Real Madrid star has commended the team for their consistent quality from 2008 to 2012 but admits La Roja's stars "went missing" in the World Cup this year
It will be extremely tough for any modern international side to match the standards set by Spain in recent years, according to former Real Madrid striker Raul.

La Roja have endured a miserable World Cup campaign in Brazil, losing 5-1 to Netherlands and 2-0 to Chile in their opening group games to bring the defence of their title to a shock premature end.

Spain's exit from the tournament was an ignominious way to bring their spell of dominance on the international scene to an end, having won back-to-back European Championships as well as the World Cup in South Africa, and Raul believes it is unlikely that a brand of such stylish and successful football will be seen again.

"We had faith in our stars who have a great record, but they failed to do it this time. It is disappointing but we should be thankful to this generation of footballers who have given us every success in the last six years or so, winning three consecutive tournaments," he wrote in his column for Times of India.

"There is an end to every success story. [It is a] pity that for Spain it came in this way. Chilean football has flourished under Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli. They had a wonderful qualifying campaign.

"A lot will be said now about how Spain failed to cross the first round and fingers will be pointed. That's true, but one should never forget what this generation meant to Spanish and world football. We always had some talent but when it came to the big stage, something went missing. This generation changed the way the world looked at us. The brand of football they played was mesmerising and the results are there for all to see.

"To become the top team [in the world] is difficult. To stay No.1 for so many months is infinitely tougher and this bunch of players proved that they were the best by winning everything from 2008 to 2012. We have seen teams dominate on the world stage but to dish out such exquisite quality day in and day out was remarkable.

"In modern football, it's very difficult to please the eye and still be the champions. This was the hallmark of our team. It has come to an end but we must salute what we have seen. The standard this lot have set will be hard to match for any team."

Spain were frustrated by a ruthless and hard-working Chile side in their second group game on Wednesday and Raul concedes Vicente del Bosque's men were "out-thought" by their South American opponents.

"Our short passing game based on the principle of keeping possession is great but for it to succeed we need space," he added.

"Against Chile, there was hardly any room for our players when they entered the rival half. This disrupted our game when we started lifting the ball towards the goalmouth. We were out-thought by them and could not produce a Plan B."