By 90Min
June 18, 2018

Spanish football was turned completely on its head on Wednesday, after the national side's head coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked just 48 hours before their first World Cup group game against Portugal.

As Spain continues to deal with the fallout, where Lopetegui agreed to become the new manager of Real Madrid behind his employers' backs, Marca have now revealed that the 51-year-old was only sacked after first refusing to resign from his role.

Pablo Cuadra/GettyImages

According to the Spanish football news outlet, Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Manuel Rubiales was informed of Lopetegui's confirmation as Real Madrid manager just minutes before announcement, and responded by immediately flying out to Spain's training camp in Krasnodar to deal with the manager in person. 

The meeting at the training camp, at which Rubiales, Lopetegui and director of football Fernando Hierro were all present, did not begin until 5am.

Reports claim that Rubiales first told Lopetegui that it would be better if the manager resigned his position immediately, but that this idea was rebuffed immediately, with Lopetegui insistent that he would be able to lift the World Cup with Spain before taking on his new role at the Bernabeu.

Getty Images/GettyImages

However, at 8am the meeting came to an end, with a shocking decision announced to the camp: Lopetegui had been removed from his post, effective immediately. 

The response from the players was one of indignation and outrage, with Lopetegui having earned the trust and support of his squad over the course of his two unbeaten years as head coach. Captain Sergio Ramos insisted that Lopetegui's sacking was a practical impossibility, given its proximity to the opening of the World Cup.

As the dust began to settle, however, the mood shifted in the Spain camp from one of shock to one of grim acceptance.

According to the report, Ramos' anger at the decision was balanced out by the more measured approach of Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique, who pleaded for unity on behalf of Spain legend Andres Iniesta. Andres did not deserve to have his last World Cup overshadowed by backstage drama, Pique insisted, and his teammates listened to him. 

By Thursday evening, the Spanish team went to dinner with one goal in mind: to win the World Cup despite the sudden loss of Lopetegui.

Spain subsequently suffered late heartbreak in their opening match of the World Cup, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a stunning free-kick to rescue a point for Portugal in an adrenaline filled 3-3 draw. 


Lopetegui's departure will no doubt cast a shadow over Spain's World Cup campaign and dominate media discussion of the side, but Friday night's performance showed that the 2010 champions have plenty of fight left in them.

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