MADRID: Less than 24 hours after the Spanish football team’s coach Julen Lopetegui proclaimed that he would take over as Real Madrid coach for the forthcoming season he was shown the door by country’s football federation.
He termed the sacking as the saddest day since the death of his mother. Julen Lopetegui said that the day he was sacked as Spain coach was the “saddest” since the death of his mother as he was officially unveiled as Real Madrid’s new manager.
“Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother. But today is the happiest day of my life,” Lopetegui said as he fought back tears.
“We are convinced that we acted in an absolutely honest and clear way.” Spain’s World Cup preparations were thrown into turmoil on Wednesday after Real Madrid confirmed Lopetegui would take over at the Bernabeu for the next three seasons, catching the Spanish Football Federation by surprise.
Spain players reportedly resisted his sacking, which came as Spain are due to face European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday before taking on Iran and Morocco in Group B of the tournament. There were fears Lopetegui’s appointment by the European champions could open up old divisions between the Real Madrid and Barcelona factions in the Spain squad.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez called the Spanish football federation’s reaction to the club’s signing of Lopetegui “disproportionate” and “unfair” at his presentation on Thursday.
The sacking of Julen Lopetegui just two days before the start of Spain’s World Cup campaign leaves new coach Fernando Hierro precious little time to regroup a stunned squad that 24 hours ago were considered among the favorites for the tournament.
Spain faces European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday in what was already a highly-anticipated clash even before the amazing events that saw Lopetegui surprisingly named Real Madrid manager on Tuesday and then relieved of his duties as Spain boss less than a day later. Lopetegui was meant to take charge at the Santiago Bernabeu after the tournament.
However, the firing of the former Madrid and Barcelona goalkeeper is just the latest reminder of the fine balance any manager of La Roja must strike in the omnipresent rivalry between Spain’s two biggest clubs.
For the first time in a major tournament since 2006, Real’s six-strong contingent outnumber Barca players in the Spain squad with only Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets selected, along with Andres Iniesta who only last month brought his glorious 16-year career at the Camp Nou to an end.
With at least six of the expected starting XI for the Portugal game to come from Madrid and Barca, Hierro, himself a former Real captain, must ensure club loyalties don’t further undermine Spain’s chances with divisions already appearing between the players and the federation.
According to Spanish press reports, the players’ wish for Lopetegui to stay, including the likes of Pique and Busquets, couldn’t change Federation chief Luis Rubiales’ mind so furious was he with the fact Lopetegui hadn’t informed his employers of negotiations with Madrid until minutes before the appointment was made public.
Relevant pieces published earlier:
i) Germany landed here today to attempt to successfully defend their World Cup title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan behind them. The intent is clear – Germany wants to become the first team for 56 years to retain the World Cup. “We want to write history,” says Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos. The Germans took off from Frankfurt in pouring rain hoping captain Manuel Neuer will stay fit after eight months on the sidelines with a foot fracture. Their buildup was dogged by the controversy surrounding Ozil and Gundogan after the midfielders, who have Turkish roots, were booed in pre-World Cup friendlies for meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Premier League stars met Erdogan in London last month with Gundogan handing him a signed Manchester City shirt with the message “to my president”. German fans took a dim view of the perceived divided loyalty by booing the pair in a friendly defeat to Austria. Gundogan has said the meeting was not politically motivated, while Ozil has refused to talk about it during the World Cup. (Published on 13th June 2018)
ii) Former World Cup winners Spain and debutants Panama arrived in Russia on Thursday for the 21st edition of the global football spectacle. The pair and Saudi Arabia complete a trio of teams to have made it to Russia one week before next Thursday’s kickoff in Moscow. Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and are one of the tournament’s favorites. They remain unbeaten in 19 matches under coach Julen Lopetegui, who took over the reins following the 2016 Euros. Spain was seen off personally by King Filipe VI and will play their final warm-up against Tunisia on Saturday by their base camp in the southern city of Krasnodar. The Spaniards launch their campaign with one of the more anticipated group stage matches – a June 15 clash against Iberian rivals Portugal in the 2014 Winter Olympics host city Sochi. The winner will be in pole position to come out on top in a Group B that also includes Morocco and Iran. Panama snuck past the United States and Honduras to clinch their first World Cup appearance on a dramatic last day of qualifiers in the CONCACAF region. Panama will have to score more upsets to progress in a Group G that includes Belgium and England as well a highly touted Tunisia side now ranked 14 by FIFA.
Nail-biting Football World Cup matches claim a life
AMMAR AHMED KHAN
KERLA (India): Unable to bear the pain of his favorite team’s defeat, a devastated Argentinean football fan 30-year-old Dinu Alex from Kottayam, allegedly jumped into Meenchal River here on Friday morning following Argentina’s shock defeat to Croatia in the FIFA World Cup on Thursday.
— biju govind (@bijugovind) June 22, 2018
The Argentineans suffered a shock 3-0 defeat against Croatia in their second group match of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia, proving that the underdogs are not to be underestimated.
A family member said that Alex – a graduate of the MG University Kottayam – seemed disturbed after the game and went missing for a few hours.
The police launched an immediate search to fish out his body but the relief operation was hampered due to heavy downpour.
Alex’s friends stated he was confident that Argentina would mount a comeback and make it through to the next round of the World Cup. However, after Argentina’s defeat, Alex was distraught and cried and switched off his phone, admitting that his team had let him down.
What we can learn from Dinu Alex is simple, this is real life. We don’t just give up because of something that didn’t go our way. His suicide would be justified, had he made a bad bet and spent most of his life savings, but not something people of the world would let slide still. For people have powered through worse situations and continued to live.
The point is simple; a fan committed suicide because he just wanted the pain to go away, forgetting that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Besides if he stuck around for longer he would know that Argentina still has a chance to qualify for the world cup thus proving they might have a “chance” to win even. But that’s wishful thinking for the most part.
A relevant piece published earlier: Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, and Ante Rebic scored one goal each here to write history by beating giant Argentina! The possibility of Argentina’s return in the game is still there. In the last six decades, this happens to be Argentina’s worst group match defeat, and with only one point from two games it played its survival in the tournament would be difficult. Argentina will have to score well in the 3rd match against Nigeria.
Football World Cup: Spotlight on Neymar
SAINT PETERSBURG: Neymar’s fitness will be under the microscope on Friday as Brazil try to kickstart their World Cup campaign, anxious to avoid the same fate as a shambolic Argentina and the under-performing Lionel Messi.
Argentina, the 2014 finalists, slumped to a 3-0 defeat by Croatia that ruthlessly exposed the flaws in an aging team that is over-reliant on Messi.
Messi barely had a shot on target and Argentina failed to recover from a terrible mistake by goalkeeper Willy Caballero that gifted the Croats their first goal and the two-time champions now face an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout phase.
Neymar, Brazil’s most important player, was subjected to rough treatment in a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, his first competitive appearance in almost four months, before hobbling out of the Rostov Arena.
The 222-million-euro man then limped out of a training session two days later with a sore right ankle, but Brazil coach Tite has confirmed he will start against Costa Rica in Saint Petersburg.
While Neymar sporadically showed flashes of his genius against Switzerland, he appeared to slow Brazil down at other times rather than keep the ball moving.
Football World Cup: Croatia beats Argentina 3-0
MOSCOW: Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, and Ante Rebic scored one goal each here to write history by beating giant Argentina!
The possibility of Argentina’s return in the game is still there. In the last six decades, this happens to be Argentina’s worst group match defeat, and with only one point from two games it played its survival in the tournament would be difficult. Argentina will have to score well in the 3rd match against Nigeria.
— FIFA World Cup (@WorIdCupUpdates) June 21, 2018
— FIFA World Cup (@WorIdCupUpdates) June 21, 2018