The Spanish team knew that winning the world Russia was to be mission impossible three days before debut against Portugal, a June 12, 2018 that is already part of the black history of national football.
That afternoon, an earthquake with an epicenter in Madrid shook the concentration of The Red in Krasnodar, the southern Russian city located 3,400 kilometers from the capital of Spain that the Federation had chosen to build the team’s headquarters in search of glory in Moscow.
At 16.50, Real Madrid published the following message on Twitter without calibrating the catastrophic consequences that it was going to cause within the National Team: “Official statement: Julen Lopetegui will be Real Madrid’s coach after the World Cup in Russia.” The bomb news caught everyone on the wrong foot and unleashed an unprecedented situation. Neither the press, nor the majority of players (informed minutes before by Julen himself) nor the Federation were on the track of lightning negotiations between the parties.
Lopetegui was not in the pools to succeed Zidane on the bench at the Bernabéu, but the refusals of Pochettino, Tite or Allegri, among others, forced Madrid to go urgently to the recently renewed coach.
The name of the Basque coach, who had renewed weeks before traveling to Russia, had hardly sounded glancing at the wide string of candidates to succeed Zinedine Zidane on the bench at the Santiago Bernabéu after the surprise resignation of the Frenchman days after lifting his third Champions consecutive in Kiev.
However, the successive refusals of technicians such as Allegri, Pochettino, Low, Tite or Klopp and the urgency of finding a substitute as soon as possible to start planning the next season forced Madrid to consult the coach, who did not hesitate to accept the offer with the only condition of being able to lead Spain in the World Cup that was about to start.
Luis Rubiales, who had not been in the position of Federation president for a month, was informed by Florentino Pérez five minutes before Madrid released the incendiary statement.
Luis Rubiales decided to dismiss Lopetegui on June 12 after meeting with Hierro, Julen and the dressing room heavyweights, who recommended his continuity
The pleas of Rubiales so that the news would not come to light they were in vain, and the president was forced to cancel a FIFA meeting in Moscow to catch a flight to Krasnodar and put out a fire that threatened to devour the aspirations of the Selection in the World Cup. The RFEF press department unexpectedly announced a joint press conference with Rubiales and Lopetegui for the morning of June 13 that would never be produced.
Although at the beginning it was not on the table, the possibility of dismissing the Basque coach was winning whole with the passing of the hours. Rubiales he met with his team, with Iron and Lopetegui (who regretted the forms of the announcement), with the captains and with some journalists before making the drastic decision.
Despite the fact that a section of the staff argued that the best way to fight for the title was to keep Lopetegui, Rubiales dismissed the coach in a sudden way to give the reins to Fernando Hierro, sports director of the Federation, and to Albert Celades even knowing that the decision could have catastrophic consequences in sporting terms, as it ended up happening in the early elimination against Russia in the round of 16.
“We have been forced to do without the coach,” announced the president on the morning of June 13. “It is the most complex situation that we could touch, it is a very hard blow,” he declared. Minutes later, Lopetegui and some of his staff left Krasnodar to return to Madrid, where the coach was presented the following day with all the honors: “Yesterday was the saddest day of my life and today is the happiest,” said Julen, who only lasted 138 days in office, victim of bad results.