Unbeaten and goal-hungry – have Spain made a mistake sacking Lopetegui?
Spain caused what could be the biggest shock of the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday, a full 24 hours before the tournament even gets underway.
Head coach Julen Lopetegui has been sacked, two days before their opening match against Portugal and just three weeks after signing a new contract until 2020.
Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), claimed he was left with no choice following Lopetegui’s decision to agree to become Real Madrid’s new head coach.
Although Lopetegui would not have taken up the post at the Santiago Bernabeu until after the World Cup, Rubiales was apparently furious at the way negotiations took place without the RFEF in the loop, prompting his decision to dispense with the coach.
But with Spain having looked strong in pre-tournament friendlies, and with senior players said to have called for Lopetegui to stay, has Rubiales made a big mistake? We take a look at the 51-year-old’s record with the national team, with a little help from Opta…
20 – Lopetegui was in charge of Spain for 20 matches, winning 14 and drawing six.
25 – Only Luis Aragones enjoyed a better start as Spain coach, going unbeaten in his first 25 outings.
61 – Spain scored 61 times with Lopetegui as coach, and no team managed to keep a clean sheet against them.
13 – No player won more games for Spain during Lopetegui’s tenure than Sergio Ramos, who enjoyed 13 victories.
11 – Isco was the second most productive Spain player in Lopetegui’s time in charge, scoring nine times and setting up two. David Silva leads the way (17 – 11 goals and six assists).
7 – Seven of Madrid’s current squad have been called up for Spain duty by Lopetegui – Jesus Vallejo being the only one to yet make an appearance.