The greatest shock of the 2018 world cup came on the eve of the competition as La Roja relieved it tactician Julen Lopetegui of his duties. This was coming after the 51 year old announced in a press conference on Tuesday that he has agreed to take over the reins of football management at the Santiago Bernebeu.
It is believed that the moved caught the Spanish football federation by surprise as Rubiales could not hide his anger when addressing the media. “The Spanish Federation have decided of dispense with the services of Julen Lopetegui after the way he acted”, he confirmed the exit of the Basque tactician todays to their opening game against Portugal. “Lopetegui has been a great coach, but we can’t accept this behavior”, as he added that the transaction was done without the knowledge of the Federation.
Rubiales replied that the Federation remained in the dark on the deal until Lopetegui confirmed the news to them few minutes to the announcement. The Basque tactician while at the helm of affairs recorded 14 victories and 6 draws in his 20 games as la Roja boss. Spain despite the departure of the Lopetegui is backed with 2.10 odd by big free bets to win Portugal
The Spanish football association have gone on to replace Lopetegui with national team’s sporting director and former Spanish skipper Fernando Hierro on interim basis. The former Madrid enforcer in his press conference have advocated for focus and consistency from the Spanish players instead of channeling attention to the Lopetegui saga.
Hierro have called on the players to show character by move on from the saga with first game against Portugal coming on Friday. “The players are excited, they want this challenge, it’s a challenge for everyone, we do not have time to regret” was the words of Hierro. “We have to be positive, opinions are not valid here, we have to turn the pages, be positive, think about the players in the squad and what we represent” were the words of the tactician who aims to win the dressing room and the team.
Despite the motivational from Hierro, Spain’s world cup ambitions now suffers a critical blow. The last time the La Roja team came to the world cup back in 2014, they were eliminated from the group stages of the world cup as the lacked the desire and passion to lift the most coveted trophy. In this case, they are likely to venture into the world cup psychologically destabilized.
The axing of Lopetegui brings the problem of emotional instability, divided dressing room and uncertainty surrounding Hierro’s arrival as it rocks their chances of lifting the world cup trophy. Lopetegui have proven to be more than a coach to the players as his on and off the pitch body language have all be good. The Basque boss seemed to have good relationship and control in the dressing room as Spanish players went ahead to plead with Rubiales on his behalf when his departure became clearer. Lopetegui tactics seemed to be loved and appreciated as there have been no critic ever since he assumed position.
However his departure means that la Roja might not be in the league of possible contenders for the trophy and this is where Hierro tactical approach is required. The former Madrid enforcer must meet with the teammates as well as try to play down his chances of world cup success with the media.
It is expected that Hierro meets the senior players of the national team to win the dressing room to his side as well as to calm tensions and uncertainties surrounding his appointment. 90 minutes on Friday against Portugal will decide the fate of La Roja in the world cup