Associated Press

Madrid, June 21:

History has unhappily repeated itself for Spanish football fans. Their squad failed again to meet expectations, this time eliminated at the first hurdle in the European championship and causing dismay that was reflected in every corner on Monday. Spain has always produced talented players, but the national team has consistently disappointed in major events and has won just one major title, and that was 40 years ago. The national broadcaster RTVE1 dedicated the first six minutes of the morning news to the team’s ouster from Euro 2004 by Iberian rival Portugal 1-0 on Sunday in Lisbon.

Spanish captain and striker Raul Gonzalez came in for immediate criticism after he hardly touched the ball against Portugal and failed to scored in Spain’s three group matches.

“Raul’s head was elsewhere,” the commentator said. “As usual,” lamented sports daily Marca, listing Spain’s early exits from 11 World Cups and European championships, including 1998, 1988, 1982, 1980 and 1978. “Chronic letdown,” stated sports daily As. “We have played a bad European championship.”

“Only three squads lost more balls,” added Marca, noting the team lost possession 69 times and although it won 159 balls, only 14 of those were in attacking positions. El Pais focused on captain Raul’s inability to knit his team together. “Raul lost standing because of his zero success rate at scoring,” stated Spain’s leading general news daily. Two years ago, Spanish fans and media blamed poor refereeing for Spain’s ouster in the quarter-finals of the World Cup by South Korea. This time there was none of that. Spain simply played poorly.