(Xinhua) -- Julen Lopetegui has been
presented as the new Real Madrid head coach on Thursday at the
Presidential Box at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Lopetegui was dismissed as Spain’s national team coach after
Real Madrid announced he would replace Zinedine Zidane as Real
Madrid’s coach after the World Cup.
"Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of
my mother," Lopetegui said, and added "but today is the
"I know I am coming to a place of great demands, and even in
giving everything, you can still come up short," the coach said.
"We’re going to do everything in our power to give the best
account of ourselves and fight at the level that this club
belongs, and even push it higher," he explained.
"I believe I am ready for this adventure and to take the
wonderful squad of players we have under my wing," Lopetegui
Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, welcomed Lopetegui
to the club and praised Lopetegui’s career.
"Today you are coming back home having achieved qualification
for the World Cup in Russia with the Spanish national team in
fine fashion, not losing in 20 games," Perez said.
Perez explained Real Madrid’s announcement of Lopetegui’s
signing just before the World Cup intended to "avoid it being
leaked, and for transparency to prevail".
"This is a first in footballing history, that a national
coach, having come to an agreement with another team, has been
considered to have behaved in a disloyal manner," he said.
Coaches agree nothing
changes after Lopetegui
as Spain and Portugal go head to head
SOCHI Russia (Xinhua) --
Neither Spain coach Fernando Hierro nor his
Portuguese counterpart, Fernando Santos believes the sacking of
Julen Lopetegui from the Spanish national team on Wednesday will
have much effect on the Spanish play at the World Cup when the
two sides go head to head in the Ficsht Stadium in Sochi on
What is tipped to be the decisive match of Group B in the
World Cup comes after a frantic 48 hours which ended with
Lopetegui losing his job after Real Madrid announced on Tuesday
he would take over at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Hierro told the press on Thursday that the players had worked
well under Lopetegui for the past two years to qualify for
Russia and had also prepared intensely for the competition.
"We have to respect the work that has been carried out we
trust in our players and we are fully fit and prepared after two
weeks of intense work," he commented.
Hierro admitted he had not had much time after his
appointment and "so I am not going to change much, we have a
clear goal in mind and there are still a lot of the coaching
staff, who are still here, you will see the Spain squad you are
used to. We have been playing excellent football for a long time
now," he said.
The Spanish are likely to line up with David de Gea in goal,
while Nacho Fernandez, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba
Sergio Buaquets will be the midfield lynchpin, supported by
Koke, David Silva and Andres Iniesta, with Diego Costa, Iago
Aspas, Isco and Lucas Vazquez disputing the last two places in
Meanwhile Santos, who two years ago led Portugal to the
European Championship, was also expecting to see the Spain of
"Spain has played the same way for 10 years, I don’t think
there will be any surprises, what is important is the players,"
"It is the opening game for two great sides, with great
players and now we will have Fernando Hierro against us," he
The Portuguese will again put their faith in Cristiano
Ronaldo in attack, though Santos highlighted the team was more
important than any individual and will field a solid defense
built around, Pepe, Bruno Alves and Jose Fonte protected by
William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho.
It could well be the irresistible force against the immovable
object as Spain look to press and pass their way to victory,
while Portugal look from a whiplash strike from Ronaldo to seal
It was tough to call before Lopetegui’s sacking, now it’s
Hierro not making changes
after Lopetegui departure
SOCHI Russia (Xinhua) --
Fernando Hierro took his seat in the press room
in the Fischt Stadium in Sochi, less than 30 hours after being
named as the replacement for Julen Lopetegui as Spain coach and
around 26 hours before he will lead Spain into their opening
game in the 2018 World Cup against Portugal.
Speaking in his first official pre-game press conference as
Spain coach, Hierro made it clear he wouldn’t be making many
changes to what Lopetegui had done over his two years in charge.
"We have to respect the work that has been carried out in the
past two weeks and also the European Champions, but we trust in
our players we know we have to realize we are fully fit and
prepared after two weeks of intense work," he commented.
"We have not had much time to work and so I am not going to
change much, we have a clear goal in mind and there are still a
lot of the coaching staff, who are still here, you will see the
Spain squad you are used to,"
"We have been playing excellent football for a long time
now," said Hierro.
The Spain coach also said that although the Portugal match
was vital, it was not the only big game Spain will play in a
group which also contains Iran and Morocco.
"I think we have three major games today, against Portugal
and then two sides, we have to realize we are privileged to be
here and we have to enjoy it, but also to say that we gave
everything we have and so we will do that and see how far we can
Hierro was accompanied by Spain captain, Sergio Ramos, who
said the players wanted to "turn the page as soon as possible,"
following Lopetegui’s departure.
"I think the sooner we leave this in the past the better, we
have to remember our World Cup will start tomorrow and we are
starting against the reigning Champions of Europe," he stressed,
while insisting there was no division in the dressing room
following Lopetegui’s dismissal.