Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas has been left shocked after Spain were shockingly knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by host nation Russia on Sunday.
Fabregas, who was part of the Spanish squads that triumphed at Euro 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup, was left out of his country’s 23-man squad. It is unlikely that he will have a future with the country as they are likely to now focus on developing younger talent. Instead, the 31-year-old has been working as a pundit for BBC Sport since the start of the World Cup.
Fabregas believes that the behind the scenes troubles had something to do with Spain’s below-par performances during the World Cup. Spain opted to sack former manager Julen Loptegui just two days before the start of the tournament after it was revealed that he had taken up the job as Real Madrid manager from next season.
The game also likely marked the final international game of Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta, who is widely regarded as one of the best players of the past generation.
Sergei Ignasevich scored an own goal to hand Spain the lead after just 11 minutes. A free-kick from Marco Asensio deflected off the 38-year-old and past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Russia, however, equalised as Artem Dzyuba converted from the spot in the 41st minute.
Although Spain managed to show flashes of impressive play, they were rather unconvincing in terms of their form and have been below-par for a second straight World Cup after being eliminated during the group stage in 2014. Despite having had 70% of ball possession during the first half, Spain failed to create any solid scoring opportunities.
Fabregas said: “Andres Iniesta in his last game for Spain, probably doesn’t deserve to go out like this, I am speechless.
“I think Spain is a much better side than Russia. Russia had a plan which was to go to penalties and pray, and it paid off for them. [The managerial changes] is definitely something when you’ve been working with a coach for two years, you know exactly what you are doing and he’s got a plan, he’s got the moves of the whole team. He didn’t probably do the right thing at the right time so it’s a shame. I’m sad.”