Spain were as fancied as any side going into the week before the World Cup began, but then their preparations began to unravel.
Julen Lopetegui agreed to join Real Madrid at the conclusion of the tournament but the Spanish FA were so affronted that the process had bypassed them that they fired him just two days before their opening match of the tournament.
Fernando Hierro has been left to oversee a tournament that has seen the 2010 winners struggle to find their best form, but still contrive to win Group B on goals scored thanks to a 2-2 draw with Morocco.
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That game yet again saw Real Madrid playmaker Isco – valued at £67.5m by Transfermarkt – stand out above nervous teammates making six key passes and scoring his side’s first equaliser after Khalid Boutaib’s shock opener.
On this form, it is staggering that the Champions League winners cannot always find space for the playmaker in their starting eleven, and Manchester United have been linked with a summer move.
That prospect could be raised again amid rumours that Juan Mata is very much on Barcelona’s radar and there can be little doubt that Isco has the star quality that United are sorely lacking in forward areas.