Did Atletico Madrid's success cost Spain at the World Cup?

Atletico Madrid had an incredible season that saw them win La Liga and finish runners-up in the Champions League, but did it cost Spain at the World Cup?

The holders crashed out of the tournament in the first round last night after a 2-0 defeat to Chile followed the humiliating 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

It is the fifth time in World Cup history that the previous winner's have fallen at the group stages and Spain still have one more game to play.

So many questions have been asked as to why La Roja have underperformed so tragically in Brazil but perhaps the domestic success of Spanish clubs played a part.

Atletico won La Liga for the first time since 1996 and in doing so pushed Real Madrid and FC Barcelona all the way.

Their 1-1 draw against Barcelona on the final day of the season was enough for them to win the title but five of the players from last night's loss to Chile played in that game just a month ago.

The tenacity of their season may have affected them when it mattered most, as they couldn't get out of first gear last night.

The Champions League final was played a week later and Atletico again featured, but against local rivals Real Madrid in an exhausting game that went to extra time.

Real eventually won 4-1 but four from the Chile defeat were involved in that game too.

Real, Atletico and Barcelona were pushed right to end of the season and were unable to rest key players ahead of the World Cup as other clubs were able to.

Nine of the 14 who featured last night come from Spain's top three clubs and their domestic campaign's look to have affected them at this summer's tournament.

Diego Costa was affected the most and didn't look anything like the free-scoring forward he was at Atletico for much of the last campaign.

He was rushed back from a hamstring injury suffered on the final day against Barcelona to play against Real Madrid in the Champions League final but was forced off just nine minutes into the game.

That restricted Costa from performing anywhere near his best at the World Cup and Spain have suffered as a result of the gruelling season's their domestic clubs endured.

They will bounce back with an exciting generation coming through, but in the investigation surrounding their early exit from the World Cup they may need to look closer to home.

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