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Spain's World Cup preparations thrown into disarray as coach Lopetegui is sacked

Lopetegui and Rubiales at the official presentation of the Spain squad.
Lopetegui and Rubiales at the official presentation of the Spain squad. / AFP
  • The FA must find a replacement before La Roja take on Portugal in their Group B opener on Friday

With just one day to go until the start of the World Cup in Russia, Spain, one of the tournament's favourites, are searching for a new coach after sacking Julen Lopetegui.

Lopetegui, who was announced as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement as Real Madrid coach on Tuesday, was on Wednesday afternoon relieved of his duties by Spanish FA chief Luis Rubiales, who said he was only informed of Lopetegui’s new job “five minutes before it was officially announced”.

Rubiales announced Lopetegui's departure at a press conference on Wednesday.

Rubiales announced Lopetegui's departure at a press conference on Wednesday. / EFE

Speaking at Spain’s base in Krasnodar, Rubiales said that after the week’s unexpected developments, "we saw that we had no choice but to fire Lopetegui".

"There is a way that you must act. Julen has worked in a great way with the team, but we cannot accept how he has acted in this case,” he said.

The FA must now find a new man quickly with Spain in action on Friday in their Group B opener against Portugal.

Names widely mooted are former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez and former Malaga man Míchel.

However, the expected frontrunners, due to their current connection to the FA are its sporting director, Fernando Hierro, and the under-21 coach Albert Celades.