It was a sobering summer of football for Spain. Despite Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final, the country saw their revered national team endure a nightmare World Cup campaign. Vicente del Bosque's side had previously won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup, making them the most dangerous team on the international stage.
Yet a stunning 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands was followed by a 2-0 loss to Chile, and whilst they did beat Australia 3-0, Spain crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage - bringing question marks over the reign of manager Vicente del Bosque. Yet the former Real Madrid boss continued as Spain looked to recover in the 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign, and whilst it started well with a 4-1 thrashing of Macedonia, their woes continued on Thursday.
Faced with a trip to Bratislava in order to face Slovakia, Spain slipped to a 2-1 defeat, with goals from Juraj Kucka and Miroslav Stoch handing Slovakia a famous win despite an equaliser from striker Paco Alcacer.
Chelsea right back Cesar Azpilicueta was left on the bench against Slovakia, but says that Spain's players need to be 'self-critical' in order to start winning again.
"That’s what football is like. When you win everything is wonderful and now results aren’t good, there’s criticism," Azpilicueta said. "It’s complicated and every time we have to take into account the most difficult things.
"We’re all in the same boat. You have to look at yourself, improve and be self-critical. The others understand. We’re not in a good moment of form but we are convinced we will do better."