KRASNODAR, RUSSIA – JUNE 08: Head Coach Julen Lopetegui of Spain poses during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session at FC Krasnodar Academy on June 8, 2018 in Krasnodar, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
The Spanish national team have sacked their head coach Julen Lopetegui. This comes just a day before the official start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup which is to be held in Russia.
This decision comes shortly after news broke that Spanish club, Real Madrid, had agreed on a deal with Lopetegui to replace Zinedine Zidane, the former Madrid manager had resigned following a historic third Champions League win in a row. The head of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales, reportedly only heard about the news 15 minutes before Real Madrid announced it. He was understandably angry and despite reported pleas from players, took the decision to terminate Lopetegui’s contract.
Julen Lopetegui Dismissed One day Before World Cup
Spain’s first game is in two days when they take on Portugal in Group B. Reigning European Champions Portugal and Spain are the favourites to qualify top of Group B. This game will likely determine who wins the group overall.
Group B is among the strongest groups in the tournament. Morocco and Iran have strong squads, with many tipping Morocco to be a dark horse in the tournament. At the moment Spain does not have a head coach or even know who it will be.
Spain were among the favourites to win the competition for a second time, the first being in 2010. However, this bombshell will more than likely leave the squad in disarray.
Spain need to find a replacement as soon as possible. Former Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will likely be on the top of the wish list. Not only is the Frenchman a free agent having left Real Madrid, he will also know a large percentage of the Spanish squad.
A large section of the Spain panel consists of Real Madrid players and he will also have a healthy knowledge of La Liga players in general. Despite stating he wanted to take a break, the prospect of a short-term, commitment-free contract and shot at a World Cup may be too tempting to turn down.