Spain were eliminated by Morocco but there are enough talented youngsters to remain positive
Spain exited the World Cup in the last 16 on Wednesday as they were beaten by Morocco on penalties after a goalless draw.
Luis Enrique's side opened the tournament with a 7-0 win against Costa Rica but failed to win any of their next three games, drawing with Germany, losing to Japan and then being eliminated by Morocco.
Here are five conclusions from La Roja's campaign in Qatar:
A team of extremes
It was clear in Qatar once again: Spain can win or lose against anyone. It sounds like something Luis Enrique would call a cliche but it is the best way to explain the two faces of the national team. They have shown it repeatedly over recent years. They need to be at their very best to compete. If they are not -- when the players are not at their best or when they can't execute the plan with maximum precision -- Spain are an ordinary team. And ordinary teams can lose against anyone. Conclusion: Luis Enrique's Spain only win when they are much better than their opponent.
Lacking a difference maker
The strength of Luis Enrique's Spain has been the group. But has that been down to conviction or necessity? It matches with Luis Enrique's personality but at Barcelona, he gave a license to players like Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Three players capable of making a difference on their own. Spain don't have players with those characteristics. That obliges him to make the team about the group to compete with the best.
Morocco confirmed it: low blocks are the worst scenario for a Spain team that wants the ball and wants to be the protagonist. When they meet these teams, when the opponent does not press and gathers around their goalkeeper, Spain loses mystery and gains predictability. Having the ball is not the same as dominating the game. Having a bite through possession is not the same as a decaffeinated version of tiki-taka. Morocco did not have the ball but in many moments they dominated Spain because they had the game where they wanted it.
There is a future
Spain end the World Cup with a single victory, but it's not all bad news. They competed with many inexperienced footballers in a tournament of this stature. And some of the outstanding players were the youngest. A team that has players like Pedri, Gavi, Dani Olmo, Nico Williams, Alejandro Balde and Ansu Fati can only continue to grow in the next big tournaments.
Lights and shadows with Luis Enrique
The Spain coach has been the team's big name during the World Cup. His prominence, including his experience as a streamer, has placed him at the center of the debate and taken the pressure off his players, most of them very young. If something has become clear, it is that the group is with him. There have been no critical statements or bad attitudes, not even among the substitutes. That group feeling has been transmitted at all times. But Spain lacked resources. And that includes players who grew up precisely under the coach's orders and who, this time, have not managed to make the same differences. The question that remains is what is the ceiling for this team? Did they have enough quality to be considered one of the favourites? Despite the initial goal rush against Costa Rica, the rest of the games have exposed the limitations of a team that is too raw.