Spain’s bid for glory at the 2022 World Cup came to an unfortunate, but rather familiar conclusion, in bowing out in the last 16 to Morocco.
A contest that saw La Roja enjoy 77% possession, while firing in 13 shots on goal, somehow ended up with them bidding farewell to Qatar.
The fallout from said setback has been swift and decisive, with the decision taken to relieve head coach Luis Enrique of his managerial duties and replace him with Luis de la Fuente.
Change off the field is likely to be accompanied by tweaks on it, as efforts are made to bring the best out of an exciting squad, that boasts plenty of potential.
OFFICIAL: Luis de la Fuente is the new Spain head coach.
He's coached Spain at various youth levels since 2013 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/hImdMJnzUj
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 8, 2022
Now is a time for reflection and future planning, with another disappointing departure from a major tournament leaving others to battle for favour in World Cup winner betting and ultimate glory, when the most prestigious of prizes is handed out.
Spain were supposed to figure prominently in the World Cup, with betting tips attempting to separate the best from the rest, but collective lines were once again fluffed in dramatic style.
It is not the first time such a situation has come to pass, with penalty shootouts becoming a serious thorn in the side of a national team that has always boasted the technical ability to suggest they should be more successful over a dead ball placed 12 yards from goal.
What does their penalty record at World Cup finals look like?
Spain penalty shootout wins at the World Cup
A solitary triumph in a battle of nerves played out on the grandest of stages was enjoyed at the 2002 World Cup, when the Republic of Ireland were edged out 4-3 in the last 16.
The Irish blinked first that day, but Juanfran and Juan Carlos Valeron failed with their respective efforts, as the tension ramped up in Suwon.
Eventually, Gaizka Mendieta found the target to send Spain through.
Spain penalty shootout defeats at the World Cup
MOROCCO SEND SPAIN HOME 🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/E1jpJoWK8c
— GOAL (@goal) December 6, 2022
A matter of days after seeing off Ireland, Spain were taken all the way again by hosts South Korea in the quarter-finals.
Their luck ran out on that occasion, with Joaquin seeing his effort saved, en route to a 5-3 defeat.
That was not the first time heartache has been endured from 12 yards, though, with Belgium prevailing 6-5 on penalties in a quarter-final contest at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
Since then, Spain suffered a 5-4 reversal against Russia in 2018 and their latest 3-0 debacle vs Morocco – four shootout defeats in total.
Spain have fared a little better outside of World Cup events, but their European Championship record still delivers a mixed bag.
Defeats were suffered at Euro 2020 (to Italy) and Euro 96 (to England), but shootout successes have been enjoyed in continental competition against Italy, in 2008, Portugal, in 2012 and Switzerland at Euro 2020.
La Roja also emerged victorious when going to penalties in a meeting with Italy at the 2013 Confederations Cup, but it is safe to assume de la Fuente will be hoping to steer clear of them, as builds towards Euro 2024 in Germany.