Stunned by their team’s 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the Netherlands, Spain fans are already bemoaning the end of a glorious era and fearing the worst in La Roja’s life-or-death World Cup clash on Wednesday against Chile.

Diego Maradona put the challenge in a nutshell. “So how are Spain going to recover from this massive blow? Spain isn’t used to letting in five goals," the Argentine legend told Latin American television station Telesur.

As Spain crumbled in the second half against the Dutch on Friday, some supporters still held out hope. “In 2010 we also lost the first match," one female supporter said tentatively.

“But this was not just a defeat, they crushed us," said another fan.

After a historic triple—Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012—Spaniards are suddenly facing up to the prospect of losing heavily, perhaps even falling out in the group stage. “I have the impression that it’s the end of an era. The cycle of victories is over," said Javier Gomez, sports presenter for private television station La Sexta.

“It is the end of a footballing model," he said, the “tiki taka" trademark of Spain and Barcelona in which players make rapid-fire short passes aimed at frustrating the opponents by depriving them of the ball until the moment it ends up in their net.

It is a style that is now under challenge from a faster, more physical game, Gomez said.

“Against Chile they may be able to take control because the players have been stung. But it’s going to be very difficult because Chile are a very disciplined team, relentless, very physical on the attack," he predicted.

And even a win against Chile may not be enough in a Group B dominated by an avalanche of Dutch goals.

“Chile are going to try for a draw. I don’t think Spain will be able to score more than two goals," said 21-year-old Madrid student Yoel Plaza as he left an official Real Madrid shop in the Spanish capital.

Spain’s squad was selected with no thought for the future, Plaza complained. “This team lives a lot in the past, in what they did in the European Cup and the World Cup. There are players who weren’t chosen and who could have been a lot better than some in the team have been," he said.

On the online platform, supporters seem to be ready to give a second chance to Spain, and keeper Iker Casillas who was criticized by the media for his performance against the Netherlands.

According to sports daily AS, over 30,000 people online said that they want him to be at the goal again, against 18,200 for David De Gea. “Casillas is still valued by the public but commentators and professionals have their doubts," said AS journalist Juan Jimenez. Casillas will definitely be on the pitch when the Chile game starts on Wednesday, said Javier Gomez.

Spanish manager Rafael Benitez, the former Liverpool boss now with Napoli, warned against burying La Roja too soon. “Their philosophy has given them numerous triumphs. And they should not change that because of a single defeat," Benitez wrote on his blog. “Spain has to think of victory and scoring goals".

Speaking of Spain’s squad, journalist and writer Enric Gonzalez warned in daily El Mundo that “there are corpses that bite". “They know and their next rivals know and we ourselves know that as a team they’re dead. Dead, but not out," he wrote. AFP

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