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13th Jun 2018

Fernando Hierro announced as new Spain manager

An eventful day in Russia... and not a single ball has been kicked

Simon Lloyd

A ball is yet to be kicked in the 2018 World Cup, yet thanks to Spain, there’s already been plenty of drama out in Russia

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Julen Lopetegui had been dismissed as the Spanish team’s manager with little over 24 hours to go before the tournament kicked off.

The development came a day after it emerged he would be replacing Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid manager in time for next season.

His decision to take the job angered senior figures within the Spanish FA, particularly the recently appointed president, Luis Rubiales, who was only made aware a matter of minutes before it was publicly announced by Real.

Rubiales travelled from Moscow back to the Spanish training base in Krasnodar late on Tuesday, confirming Lopetegui’s departure at a press conference the next day.

Quite a story.

Immediately, conversation turned to who might replace Lopetegui for the World Cup. Spain’s Under-21 coach Albert Celades was put forward as one possible candidate with some more far-fetched suggestions claiming Zidane would make the ideal candidate.

As it goes, the man who will take charge of the team while in Russia will be Fernando Hierro (one of Zidane’s former Real Madrid teamates).

Hierro, who also spent a season at Bolton Wanderers during his playing days, is currently Spain’s sporting director and will step into the role for the time being.

His first task will be to ready the team for their opening game in Sochi on Friday, which will see them take on European champions and Iberian neighbours, Portugal. They will also have to try and negotiate their way out of a group containing Iran and Morocco if they are to reach the knockout stages of the competition.