Spain Sack Julen Lopetegui On Eve Of World Cup After He Was Confirmed As Real Madrid Boss
Unbeaten in 20 matches as coach and heading into World Cup 2018 as one of the favourites to lift the trophy… things couldn’t really have been going any better for Julen Lopetegui and his Spain squad.
That was until Real Madrid decided to announce him as the man to replace Zinedine Zidane just three days before the start of the tournament.
It’s a decision that has rightly sent shockwaves through Spanish football, not because of the hire per se, but because of the timing. Club and personal interests before country.
Head of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, only found out the news 15 minutes before it was made public and was rightly furious.
And, flexing his own muscles, has decided to relieve Lopetegui of his duties two days before their opening World Cup match against Portugal.
He’ll take some flak for so doing and it’s a brave decision no doubt, but it shows backbone and that he’s not someone to be messed with.
Quite how this will all impact upon La Roja’s tournament will only be determined once a ball is kicked in earnest, but it’s safe to say that this is a headache they could’ve done without.
Lopetegui was already being abused online by supporters of Spain and Real Madrid, even before the announcement of his sacking.
Madridistas have vented their ire after a video re-surfaced of him telling reporters that Lionel Messi was the best player he’s ever seen.
The reigns in Spain have been (temporarily for now) handed over to Fernando Hierro and Albert Celades, both of whom have been in and around the Spanish set up with Lopetegui.
Whether either will still be in situ post World Cup will probably be determined by just how far Spain will go in Russia, though there are other potential candidates to replace Lopetegui that are probably better placed.
Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique would be a perfect example.
For now, Rubiales and Co. will want total concentration on the Portugal game with a chance to regroup in the days afterwards.
The situation is unprecedented and it’s entirely possible that there’ll be a fall-out with Real Madrid over their insistence at timing the appointment as they did.
Apparently, the Real players in the Spanish set-up were aware of his hire by their club and the news began to spread quickly in the dressing room.
To save it getting out before any official announcement, Los Blancos had to make it official, thus setting off a chain of events which have ultimately ended with Lopetegui’s sacking.
Football eh… ?!