Leading up to the 2018 World Cup, Spain was talked about as a favorite, but headlines changed after the team fired their manager just 24 hours before the World Cup started. Fernando Hierro takes over Spain’s squad for Julen Lopetegui. Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation, released a statement on the firing, per The Guardian.
The national team belongs to everyone and we have to send a clear message to all employees at the federation that there is a way of behaving, that there are ethics. Julen has worked phenomenally well; I have nothing at all to complain about there. But the way that this has happened obliged me to take this decision. This is a very hard day and now we have decisions to make just two days before the World Cup starts.
The announcement came after Lopetegui accepted the Real Madrid manager position. Veteran defender Sergio Ramos took to Twitter to assure fans they were in good hands.
“We are the national team. We represent this emblem, these colors, our fans, a country. Our responsibility and commitment is to you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, together,” Ramos tweeted (via AP).
The lead up to the World Cup may have been a bit chaotic, but Spain has plenty of talent on their national team roster. The midfield is held down by veterans Andres Iniesta and David Silva. Diego Costa is expected to lead the team up top. Spain is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 World Cup where they failed to advance past the group stage.
Leading up to the World Cup, Spain notched wins over Albania, Israel, Costa Rica and Argentina. Spain also tied Germany and Russia. ESPN explains why Iniesta is the key to the team’s success.
Now 34, Andres Iniesta remains the leader in the Spain midfield, with Lopetegui trusting him as the successor to former teammate Xavi Hernandez as the team’s main string-puller. The scorer of the winning goal at the 2010 tournament, Iniesta’s ability to control the pace and shape of a game was seen again during a star showing as his club Barcelona won the 2018 Copa del Rey final in April.
This is also sure to be a final international tournament for “Don Andres,” who will likely not play every single minute, but whose influence on and off the pitch will still be huge.
The coaching news moved Spain down the championship odds just slightly. According to OddsShark, Spain is third (behind Germany and Brazil) at +650 down from their initial +600 odds.
Here’s a look at Spain’s national team World Cup roster courtesy of ESPN.
Spain’s World Cup National Team Roster
|G||1||David De Gea|