Jose Mourinho: Lopetegui departure should not affect Spain

Jose Mourinho feels Spain’s dramatic change of boss two days before their World Cup opener against Portugal is not a “huge problem” for La Roja.

Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain coach on Wednesday, a day on from it being announced by Real Madrid that he would take over as their new boss after the tournament.

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales opted to axe him having been told Lopetegui was taking the Real job just five minutes before the club’s official announcement.

Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain boss on Wednesday (Adam Davy/EMPICS).

Fernando Hierro, the former Spain captain who has been working as director of football, has been appointed to lead the team though the World Cup.

Giving his thoughts on the matter today in his capacity as an RT pundit, Manchester United and former Real boss Mourinho said: “I think it’s a strange situation.

“I don’t know if Spain sacked the manager of if the manager sacked himself with the way everything happened between himself and Real Madrid.

“I feel sorry for the manager of course because he went with the team for the last two years and of course he would deserve to be with the team, but I also understand the position of the federation. They just gave him a new contract for the future.

“If it’s true what I read, that the president of the federation was informed a couple of minutes before the club makes it official, it’s a strange process.

“What I feel is that it is a national team with such a quality, such a maturity and such an understanding.

“The fact that it’s not Lopetegui on the bench and it’s Fernando Hierro honestly I don’t think is going to make a huge difference, because the players, they pick themselves.

“They are so good, the team is so good, so automatic, that I don’t think it’s a huge problem for them.”

The Portuguese said of Friday’s Group B match in Sochi: “I feel that we can win, we can lose. And as a fan, I wouldn’t be in hell if we lose against Spain but also I would not be in heaven if we beat Spain.

“I think we both are going to qualify because we are two of the strongest teams in the competition.”

Mourinho has predicted his native Portugal reaching the final of World Cup 2018 (Steven Patson/EMPICS).

Mourinho has predicted Portugal will make it all the way to the final along with an Argentina side he sees defeating Spain in the last eight.

That scenario is, of course, a potential pitting of Cristiano Ronaldo against old rival Lionel Messi, and Mourinho said of the two superstars, 33 and 30 respectively: “I think they both arrive in this World Cup probably as the last one.

“I think they are going both to put everything in this World Cup, to try to finish their careers with the only thing they don’t have. To be world champion would be the pinnacle of their careers.”

Mourinho, in his RT predictions, has also forecast England being beaten by Brazil in the quarter-finals.

- Press Association


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