Spain saw its team plane struck by lightning while returning home from the 2014 World Cup, adding insult to injury after a disappointing showing in the tournament.
The Spanish team came in as defending champion after steamrolling through the competition in the 2010 World Cup. The Spanish squad came into the 2014 World Cup highly ranked, with many believing they could repeat as champions.
But instead Spain came out flat, losing 4-0 to the Netherlands and following it up with another loss to Chile. The team rebounded with a 3-0 victory over Austrailia on Monday in its final pool play game, but by that point they had already been eliminated.
”What happened is in the past now,” Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso said. ”We tried to face our situation in the best manner possible. This is football, though, and we go home sad.”
But the Spanish team was facing a team in the same situation — Australia was also eliminated going into the final match with Spain — and still managed to rise to the occasion.
”We started bright enough but you have to give credit to them, they are a quality team,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. ”We looked jaded, tired, and gave away the ball too easily, so it’s disappointing.”
But even after leaving Brazil, the team couldn’t catch a break. The Spain team plane was struck by lightning as it was landing back home in Madrid.
The weather around Madrid was turbulent when Spain’s team plane approached, with heavy rain and lightning at the airport. A spokeswoman for the airline Iberia SA said the lighting strike didn’t cause any damage, and that the plane landed without incident.
But the plane was carrying 20 of the team’s 23 members, leaving a not exactly warm welcome as they came home. The players left the airport in vans, without talking to the media or the 200 or so fans who came to meet them.
What happened to Spain’s team plane wasn’t all that unusual, experts note. Commercial planes are struck by lighting about once a year, they say.