KRASNODAR (Russia): Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the team's opening game against Portugal at the World Cup, Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on Wednesday.In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Real Madrid named Lopetegui as their next manager to start work after the tournament in Russia, sparking outrage among the federation and Spanish fans at the timing of the announcement.
Julen Lopetegui sacked as Spain coach on eve of World Cup
- Spain sacked coach Lopetegui just two days before the team's opening game against Portugal
- In a surprise announcement, Real named Lopetegui as their next manager on Tuesday
- Lopetegui was appointed Spain's coach in July 2016 and never tasted defeat in the job
No decision has yet been made over who will take charge with Spain due to face European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
Lopetegui was appointed Spain's coach in July 2016 and never tasted defeat in the job, leading the team through 20 unbeaten games ahead of the World Cup.La Roja were among the favourites to lift the trophy this summer but this astonishing upheaval, so close to the tournament, will surely affect the players.There were fears his appointment could open up old divisions between the Real Madrid and Barcelona factions in the Spain squad.
For the first time since 2006, there are more players from Madrid in a Spanish squad for a major tournament, with a six-strong Real contingent and just Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets from Barca.
However, according to reports in the Spanish media, the players tried to intervene at the last minute to prevent Rubiales sacking Lopetegui.
"I have spoken with the players and what I can guarantee is that the players will do everything in their power, along with the new technical team to take the team as far as possible," said Rubiales.
La Roja were among the favourites to lift the trophy this summer but the astonishing developments of the past two days could have a devastating affect on their chances.
Lopetegui had a short playing career at both Madrid and Barcelona as a reserve goalkeeper.However, his coaching career had been far from distinguished before being handed the role as Spain coach after a last-16 exit at Euro 2016 brought Vicente del Bosque's eight-year reign to an end.
After short spells at Rayo Vallecano and with Madrid's youth team Real Madrid Castilla, Lopetegui enjoyed a successful time with Spain's under-19s and under-21s.He then spent 18 months in charge of Porto but was sacked after exiting the Champions League at the group stage in his second season.