In Brief

Spain sack Julen Lopetegui: World Cup chaos for the 2010 winners

Real Madrid announced Lopetegui as their new head coach yesterday

Spain have sensationally sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before their opening match at the 2018 World Cup.

It was announced last night that Lopetegui had signed a three-year deal to become Real Madrid’s new boss, but the timing - and secrecy - of the appointment has caused chaos for Spain’s World Cup preparations.

The 2010 World Cup winners play Portugal in their opening group B match on Friday but Lopetegui won’t be in the dugout.

Quoted by The Guardian, Spanish Football Association president Luis Rubiales said: “We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish him the greatest of luck.

“The negotiations have occurred without any information to the Spanish FA and we were informed just five minutes before the press release. There’s a way to act that needs to be fulfilled.

“You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision.”

Rubiales said the Lopetegui saga will make the team “stronger”. He added: “I have spoken with the players and I can guarantee they will do everything, along with the new coach, to take the team as far as possible.

“To win is very important, to have the best coach very important, but above everything is acting in the right way. Maybe this is tough now, but in the end it will make us stronger.”

While the Spanish FA did not know about Lopetegui’s big move, according to Marca, Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos was “apparently aware for some while of what was coming”. 

It was later announced that former Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro will be Spain head coach for the World Cup.

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