Lopetegui Dismissed As Spain Manager Just Before Russia 2018 World Cup Opener With Portugal

The Spanish World Cup camp has been left in disarray after manager Julen Lopetegui was booted out of his position by the country’s football federation.

Lopetegui, 51, pays the ultimate price after he was announced as new Real Madrid head coach on Wednesday evening on a three-year deal.

The former FC Porto boss renewed his contract with the Spanish FA just three weeks ago but the federation president, Luis Rubiales, has decided to give him the boot for betraying them in favour of the Real Madrid job.

The search for a replacement is now on with the team expected to open their World Cup campaign in Group B against European champions and neighbours Portugal on Friday, just one day after the tournament in Russia kicks off.

Sporting director Fernando Hierro is widely seen as the most likely replacement for the sacked Lopetegui.

The president explained the decision to sack him via a press conference on Wednesday morning, Rubiales said: “Some decisions have to be taken. I don’t feel betrayed. While he was working with the Spanish national side his work was impeccable. Another thing is what he’s done without the RFEF (the Spanish FA) knowing, while he was working for the RFEF. The way you do things is important. We’ll change things as little as possible and as soon as we have something to say, we’ll do so.”

He then slammed European champions Real Madrid for their conduct as he said: “If someone wants to start a relationship with someone at the RFEF, they need to talk to that employee and also with the RFEF. It’s a basic thing, because this is the team of every Spanish person. A World Cup is the biggest event going. We’ve now got to focus on the fact that in two days we’ve got a massive game.”