The big football story over the past few days was Spain boss Julen Lopetegui agreeing to join Real Madrid on a three-year deal Monday. Today (Wednesday) and Lopetegui is again the main story.
However, it is bad news for the Spain boss, as the Spanish Football Federation has decided to dispense with his services just a day before the World Cup starts.
SFF not told about the negotiations
According to the Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales, they did not know anything about Lopetegui’s negotiations with the European champions, despite Lopetegui still employed by the SFF.
Lopetegui informing the SFF that he was in talks with the Spanish giants could have avoided this situation. However, the former Porto boss, who only signed a contract with the SFF a few weeks ago failed to tell his current employers.
The decision seems crazily timed. However, it is understandable from the point of view of the SFF. Lopetegui’s announcement as Real Madrid boss no doubt caused distraction his sacking could cause mayhem.
Spain squad needs leaders to step up
Spain have a highly talented squad, one of the best in the competition in fact. There is a nice blend of experience and youth in the set-up. It remains to be seen how much of an effect it has on the team.
The player’s ability may well prove more important than who is managing the team. The likes of Albert Celades and Fernando Hierro are the early favourites to take the role in Russia.
No matter how experienced the players are at the top level, this situation has had to have an effect on them. The likes of Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta have played at the top level of football for a long time.
They are the ones that need to step up and help the younger players get through what has become a fiasco. They are the ones with the know-how to make the best out of a bad situation.
There are big characters in that dressing room and everybody will be keen to ensure that heads do not drop over the massive decision.
Spain one of the favourites to lift the trophy
Prior to the Julen Lopetegui situation, Spain were seen as one of the favourites to lift the trophy. La Roja needs a good World Cup having exited at the group stage last time out as reigning champions.
There is always a delicate line between success and failure at big tournaments. Many factors come in to play, including luck and injuries. However, sacking the head coach on the eve of the world’s biggest international competition seems like a massive gamble.
Lopetegui could be good news for Spain’s rivals to win the trophies such as Germany, Brazil, France and Argentina. However, it could prove even better news to the teams in their group Portugal, Morocco and Iran.
There is now a slim chance that La Roja may not be at their best in Russia. It seems unlikely that the sacking will stop Spain from making the knockout stages, but the Spanish players could certainly have done without with a big opener against Portugal on Friday night.
How will Julen Lopetegui’s sacking affect Spain’s chance of winning the World Cup?