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Spanish World Cup hopes hit as coach Julen Lopetegui sacked on eve of tournament

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Spain’s World Cup preparations are in turmoil after the sacking of head coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

Lopetegui has lost his job after it was announced on Tuesday he would take over at Real Madrid following the World Cup in Russia.

On Wednesday, Spain delayed a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium by well over an hour before Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales announced the decision.

He said: “We have been forced to dispense with the national coach.”

Rubiales added: “We wish him the best of luck.”

Suggestions first emerged early on Wednesday that Rubiales was not happy with the situation and would remove Lopetegui just two days before Spain’s Group B opener against Portugal.

Addressing the media in Russia, Rubiales revealed he had only been told of Real’s decision five minutes before they announced Lopetegui’s appointment.

“The negotiation occurred without the RFEF having any information,” Rubiales said.

“(We were told) just five minutes before the press release. We have a way of behaving that needs to be adhered to.

FBL-WC-2018-ESP-TRAINING

“The Spain team is the team of all Spaniards. You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been obliged to make this decision.”

Spain Under-21 manager Albert Celades, who is part of the coaching staff with the senior squad in Russia, and director of football Fernando Hierro are two of the possible replacements as head coach heading into the World Cup.

Going into the tournament, Spain are one of the favourites to lift the trophy next month, but with this shock announcement, their plans may be disrupted.

Spain find themselves in Group B for the competition, alongside European champions Portugal, who they face on Friday evening, and Morocco and Iran.

Although they should comfortably navigate their way through the relatively easy group, it will be interesting to see how Lopetegui's dismissal effects them in the knockout stages.

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Topics:
Football
Julen Lopetegui
Sergio Ramos
La Liga
Real Madrid
World Cup
David De Gea
Gerard Pique

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