Photo courtesy of Royal Spanish Football Federation
Spain have appointed Juan Lopetegui as their new national team manager, replacing Vicente Del Bosque after the abject failures of World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016. Lopetegui signs on after two years with Porto, and will hope to use his experience as Spain U-19 and U-21 manager to take La Roja back to the heights of World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.
Lopetegui joins after two years with FC Porto, failing to win a league title in his time there, and becoming infamous for his eccentric team selections with the Portuguese club. It was his first ever job as a club manager.
Before signing on with the Dragons, Lopetegui coached multiple levels in La Roja’s youth setup, leading the Spanish to the European Under-19 Championship in 2012 and European Under-21 Championship in 2013.
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Spain’s coach Vicente Del Bosque gestures next to Italy’s coach Antonio Conte during the Euro 2016 round of 16 football match between Italy and Spain
The 49-year-old has coached many of Spain’s up-and-coming starlets like Denis Suarez, Gerard Deulofeu, Paco Alcacer and more with the Under-19s, and worked with the young core of Spain’s current team like David De Gea, Thiago Alcantara, Koke, Isco and Alvaro Morata when he was with the Under-21s. With most of Spain’s current "golden generation" coming to the end of their illustrious careers, the hope will be that the new boss will be able to transition the new crop in, while maintaining the same standards of excellence that Del Bosque was unable to keep in the last years of his tenure.
With the Spanish FA reportedly preferring a Spanish manager to replace Del Bosque, the options were limited from the start, as many other higher-profile options were tied to long-term contracts or otherwise unavailable for the Seleccion. While Lopetegui probably wasn’t the FA’s first choice, his experience with Spain’s youth setup will likely serve him well as he attempts to take Spain to success in World Cup 2018.
His first test will be Spain’s friendly against Belgium on Sept. 1st, and just four days later Spain start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a home match against Liechtenstein.