The headline Thursday in Spain's biggest sports newspaper, Marca, said it best: "The End."
Huddled around televisions in bars and in living rooms across their country, Spaniards uttered a collective groan late Wednesday when their decorated national soccer team was eliminated from the
Spain had made history by winning back-to-back titles: The European Championship in 2008, the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship again in 2012. Now that streak is over.
"It is a shock now, because we were used to winning all the time in Spain!" said Iñigo Carmona, 19, roaming empty Madrid streets with three of his college buddies after watching the game. "A lot of people just forget their problems watching the team. They don't deserve the thing that we watched -- the humiliation we watched."
A few dozen dejected fans, some drunk, gathered early Thursday around a fountain in front of a 19th century palace in downtown Madrid, where their country normally celebrates soccer victories. They sang patriotic songs almost until sunrise and booed their team -- which was 5,000 miles away in Brazil.
Spain was ranked No. 1 in the world by world soccer's governing body, FIFA, and was a favorite to win the World Cup in Brazil. The team, nicknamed "La Roja" for the red jerseys they wear, still has one game left to play, versus Australia on Monday. But two losses -- to the Netherlands on Friday, and Chile on Wednesday -- mean it's nearly impossible for Spain to advance.
"We cannot complain we did not deserve to go out. They were better than us," the Spanish team's coach, Vicente del Bosque, told Spanish TV. "We were certainly inferior to our rivals here. It is not the moment to think about the future. Little by little we will make the necessary assessments."
Spaniards' sorrow over their World Cup performance overshadowed another big event in Madrid on Thursday: The swearing-in of the country's new king, Felipe VI, who ascended the throne after his father, Juan Carlos, signed a document Wednesday making his abdication official.