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Spain replaces fired Lopetegui with Hierro

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach because he accepted a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid's announcement. "The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release," Rubiales said. "We have been compelled to act." Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui betrayed the federation's values and it was the only decision he could make. "It's a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them," Rubiales said. "It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger." Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to talk to the media later. "We have to work on a series of decisions that come just two days before the opener," Rubiales said. "There's a lot to do." Hierro spent most of his career as a defender for Real Madrid and finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga's general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid's announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach's decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain's team for the World Cup. Lopetegui's name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. "I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision," Rubiales said. "Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled." The 51-year-old Lopetegui took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship. He was credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy. He won European championships with Spain's under-19 and under-21 teams in the early 2010s, but had a lackluster stint with Portuguese team Porto in his only job with a major club. He was fired after failing to win a title during almost two years in Portugal. Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for nearly three decades. He was elected president over Juan Luis Larrea, the federation's former treasurer and its interim leader since Villar was suspended following his arrest last year on suspicion of corruption. In one of his first actions, Rubiales canceled a previously arranged "vacation" trip by officials to the World Cup that would cost nearly 2 million euros ($2.3 million). He got the money reimbursed and spent only about 500,000 euros ($590,000) with new travel arrangements for sponsors and federation officials. "We are all affected," Rubiales said about Lopetegui's departure. "We have to think about what is best for the entity, for the federation and the team, and from this afternoon we will all be together to go forward.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 13th, 2018

Real Madrid fires coach Lopetegui after big loss to Barca

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — In just months, Julen Lopetegui has lost two of the most high-profile coaching jobs in the world. Lopetegui was finally fired by Real Madrid on Monday, less than five months after he was sacked by Spain before the World Cup for not telling federation officials he accepted the Madrid job. The latest firing followed a meeting by the club's board of directors on Monday, a day after the team was crushed by Barcelona 5-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Santiago Solari, coach of Real Madrid B, will take charge for the Copa del Rey match against third-division club Melilla on Wednesday. Spanish media speculated Solari, a former Madrid player, was in the running for the permanent job along with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Belgium manager Roberto Martinez. The firing caps a horrible few months for Lopetegui and is likely to deal a significant setback to his career. After doing well with Spain's youth teams, he had a lackluster stint with Portuguese club Porto, but gained prominence after revamping Spain and turning it into a contender entering the World Cup. "I want to thank the club for the opportunity it gave me and the players for their effort," Lopetegui told the local news agency EFE. "I wish the team the best for the rest of the season." Madrid said in a statement it sacked 52-year-old Lopetegui to "change the team's dynamic while all of its objectives for the season were still reachable." The board of directors believed there was a huge difference between the quality of the squad and the results it was achieving. The board noted the team has eight players nominated for the Ballon d'Or award, something unprecedented in the club's history. They have lost five of their last seven matches. "We know that results are important for a coach," Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said after the Barcelona match. Lopetegui, who led the team practice on Monday morning, was hired by Madrid to replace Zinedine Zidane, who quit after leading the club to the last three Champions League titles. Losing the clasico left Madrid ninth in the Spanish league, seven points behind leader Barcelona after 10 rounds. It hasn't won in five straight league matches, with four losses, and recently reached its worst scoring drought ever. The club had a decent start to the season but things went sour as the squad struggled to produce goals in its first season without Cristiano Ronaldo in nearly a decade. Madrid didn't replace the superstar; its only high-profile signing was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. In 14 matches with Lopetegui, Madrid won six, lost six, and drew two. After the Copa match on Wednesday, Madrid hosts Valladolid in the Spanish league, and visits Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League. "We have to move on as soon as possible because there is a lot of season left," Ramos said. To make things worse, veteran left back Marcelo is expected to be out for a few weeks because of a muscle injury. Forward Mariano Diaz is also injured and is likely to be out for at least a week. Solari, aged 42, is a former Argentina midfielder who played for Real Madrid in the early 2000s and helped the team win the 2002 Champions League. He also played for Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan. He has been coaching Real Madrid B since 2016, taking over not long after Zidane left to coach the main squad. Lopetegui is the second La Liga coach to be fired. The first was Leo Franco of promoted club Huesca, currently last in the 20-team standings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Paco Alcacer making most of 2nd chance with Spain

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Close to seeing his career stagnate, Paco Alcacer is making the most of a second chance to become Spain's top striker. Alcacer scored twice in his first appearance for Spain in two-and-a-half years to lead a 4-1 away win at Wales in a friendly last week. On Monday, the former Barcelona player will likely feature again when Spain hosts England in Seville seeking a second win over Gareth Southgate's team in the incipient Nations League. "I'm happy that I was able to help the team by doing what we strikers are supposed to, which is provide goals," Alcacer said after Thursday's match in Cardiff. "I just have to keep this good dynamic going." The 25-year-old Alcacer has been rejuvenated since leaving Barcelona on loan for Borussia Dortmund in August, a turnaround that has ended a hiatus from Spain's national team that was in danger of becoming a permanent adios. Previous to his two goals for Spain against Wales, Alcacer had scored seven times in a four-match scoring run for Dortmund. That streak included netting a spectacular hat trick that he completed on the last kick of the game for a 4-3 win over Augsburg. Ironically, Alcacer's slide toward oblivion at Barcelona began under current Spain coach Luis Enrique when he was condemned to a reserve role behind the superstar trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in 2016-17. Not even Neymar's departure at the start of last season changed the situation at Camp Nou for Alcacer. Favoring other players, new coach Ernesto Valverde gave him fewer appearances than Luis Enrique. So Alcacer decided that his best option was to leave Spain and try his luck in Germany. And it turned out that Alcacer just needed a chance to play. With his brace against Wales, Alcacer showed his leading quality as a striker. He is not the fastest, the strongest, nor the slickest passer; he is a pure goal scorer who excels at putting one-touch shots in-between the posts. Against Wales, Alcacer fired a rising right-footed shot into the near corner for the lead— and his first goal with Spain since Oct. 2015. He then put the win beyond doubt by poaching a clearance in the area to make it 3-0. "Alcacer is playing superbly because he is on a scoring streak, but overall his attitude has been marvelous," said Luis Enrique, who called Alcacer up to fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa. Alcacer was not supposed to need a comeback story. Four years ago, former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque considered Alcacer, along with Alvaro Morata, as his strikers of the future. The then Valencia player led Spain in qualifying for the 2016 European championship with five goals, but when he struggled to score for his club in the run-up to the tournament Del Bosque dropped him from his squad. Banished to the bench following his move to Barcelona from Valencia, Alcacer was also ignored by Julen Lopetegui in his two-year tenure that took Spain to last summer's World Cup. Circumstances, however, have put Alcacer in good position to now succeed for "La Roja." While competition remains fierce in the positions of midfielder and playmaker for Spain, the striker job is up for grabs. Long gone are the days when David Villa and Fernando Torres flourished up front for the 2010 world champions, as both Costa and Morata have failed to show they can be counted on for goals. Alcacer said that he had been preparing for this return to his best form. "It's about several things," he said, "about getting on a hot streak, about self-confidence, about having playing time, and, above all, about working each day when you are not playing so you can be ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2018

Atletico beats Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in Super Cup

By Frank Griffiths, Associated Press TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Real Madrid on the European stage, scoring twice in extra time to win 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday in its rival's first game without Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico got off to a flying start with Diego Costa scoring the competition's fastest goal just 50 seconds in, but Madrid came back to take a 2-1 lead as Los Blancos tried to prove they can still win trophies without Ronaldo and with a new coach. But Costa equalized late in the match with his second goal before Saul Niguez and Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion sealed the victory in extra time on a cool night in Estonia's capital. Atletico's victory over its crosstown rival had added significance after it lost two Champions League finals to Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Diego Simeone's team was also eliminated by Madrid in the 2017 semifinals. "I'm elated," Costa said. "Real Madrid has always beaten us in these finals. It was our turn to win a final." The loss leaves new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui still having to prove that there is life after Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in 438 matches before joining Juventus this summer and helped lead the club to three straight Champions League titles. "I'm sad. I'm frustrated. It's a final that we lost," Lopetegui said. "But I also know that we will have to wake up and prepare ourselves for our first league match and start the season on the right foot." Gareth Bale showed glimpses of his pace and skill, but couldn't mimic Ronaldo's ability to decide a game on his own. Instead, Costa was the one who dominated at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn. He overpowered Madrid's center backs in the first minute after a long ball from Stefan Savic, first winning a header against Sergio Ramos and then muscling past Raphael Varane to cut into the area where he beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas at the near post. Karim Benzema equalized in the 27th minute, heading in a pinpoint cross from Bale, who was able to break away from Lucas Hernandez on the right and curl the ball into his fellow forward's path. Bale, who was given a freer role than he's used to, caused trouble for Atletico's defense in the first half as he switched between wings. He was Madrid's main creative spark at that point, with his teammates constantly trying to feed him the ball. He faded in the second half, but Lopetegui was pleased with Bale's performance. "Gareth has played very good. In this moment of the season, all the players are not in the best physical way," the coach said. "We are happy with his performance and we hope he's going to put in deserved performances in the next matches." Sergio Ramos scored a penalty in the 63rd minute after Juanfran Torres handled in the area as the ball flew over him from a corner. Juanfran made up for it in the 79th by taking the ball off Marcelo near the touchline and then passing to Angel Correa. The substitute then skipped past a couple of Madrid defenders and cut the ball back from the byline to Costa, who poked the ball into the roof of the net. In extra time, substitute Thomas Partey set up the decisive goal when he stripped the ball off Varane and played a one-two with Costa before dribbling toward the byline. Partey then cut the ball back to Saul Niguez, who volleyed the ball first-time to send the ball past Navas to make it 3-2 in the 98th. Koke finished Madrid off with a cool finish in the 104th. Lopetegui, who joined Madrid in controversial fashion and was fired as Spain coach just before the World Cup, will need to show that he can build on the success of predecessor Zidedane Zidane and can win with new tactics. At times, Madrid looked uncomfortable playing under the new possession-based system and seemed to miss Ronaldo's flair and proficiency. "We need to improve on the all the phases of the team," Lopetegui said. "We don't like to make mistakes." Madrid had to play without new goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, as the former Atletico player didn't even dress for the match. Spanish media reports said the team didn't register him in time with UEFA following his transfer from Chelsea. For Atletico, the victory gives the team a boost before the season starts, Simeone said. "The club is growing. We have a new stadium," he said. "We have players who want to join us, players who don't want to leave us. I think this speaks volumes.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Madrid goes after new coach to save its season

  MADRID--- The search is on for a new coach at Real Madrid. With the team reeling from a demoralizing loss to Barcelona and far from the top in the Spanish league standings, Madrid is looking for someone who can turn things around and save the season. Former player Santiago Solari, coach of Madrid's "B'' team, was in charge of practice on Tuesday, but the club was in a hurry to find a replacement who could quickly put the team back on track. Madrid fired Julen Lopetegui on Monday, saying it was time to "change the team's dynamic while all of its objectives for the season were still reachable." The club said the team deserved better results with the quality of pla...Keep on reading: Madrid goes after new coach to save its season.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Lopetegui loses lot after being sacked by Real Madrid

MADRID, Spain – Julen Lopetegui's brief and inglorious reign as Real Madrid coach lasted just 139 days after the club confirmed he had been sacked on Monday, October 29.  Lopetegui was dismissed following a meeting of the board of directors, who concluded there had been a "great disproportion between the quality ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

With Messi out, Suarez takes leadership role for Barcelona

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Even though it ended up a blowout, there was a moment in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday when the result seemed in the balance. Madrid had just pulled a goal back after overcoming the control Barcelona had imposed to take a 2-0 lead into halftime, and the hosts didn't have Lionel Messi to come to the rescue. That was when Luis Suarez stepped up to add two more goals to his first-half penalty to complete a hat trick that has placed Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui's job in serious peril. "Almost every season I score against Madrid," Suarez said. "They came out of the restart going for the match. They pressured us a lot and had chances to draw level. We scored the third goal and took advantage of our speed and the open space to wrap it up." His second goal was a superb header, as he powered a soft lob from Sergi Roberto past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. That goal came when his teammates were under pressure after Marcelo had scored and Luka Modric hit the post. Suarez also showed quality marksmanship on his penalty, driving it just inside the post and the diving Courtois, as well as fine finishing to chip in his third goal. "He scored three goals today, but the work of Luis is always there," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. As work goes, Suarez multitasks. The Uruguayan bumps and battles with opposing defenders, makes runs to free up teammates, offers an outlet up front, and helps form part of Barcelona's intricate passing attack. Suarez dedicated his first goal to his family by lifting his shirt up to reveal a T-shirt with a image of this three children on it. "This week my third child was born and her siblings wanted to come with me today, since mommy and Lauti are watching from home," Suarez said. The 31-year-old Suarez has scored nine times in 11 matches against Madrid since joining the Spanish champions after he left Liverpool following his biting of an Italy defender in the 2014 World Cup. Since then, Suarez has been on his best behavior, and become one of the club's veteran leaders. Suarez scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Madrid that helped Barcelona secure the league title late in the 2014-15 season. The next season he scored twice in a 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu that Messi also missed. He netted in a 1-1 draw with Madrid in 2016-17, and also in a 3-0 win at Madrid and a 2-2 draw at home last season. But the Uruguay striker has been especially important recently with Messi on the sidelines. Since Messi broke his arm in the first half against Sevilla on Oct. 20, Barcelona has outscored its opponents 9-3, including four goals by Suarez. Messi went down while Barcelona was leading Sevilla 2-0. Suarez immediately stepped up by scoring a third goal in an eventual 4-2 victory. He set the tone against Inter Milan in the Champions League last week, assisting Rafinha for the opening goal of a 2-0 win. But Suarez had saved his best for Sunday night, when he fueled a lopsided win that Barcelona's fans will savor. THE RIGHT MOVES Madrid's comeback attempt was triggered by Lopetegui sending on Lucas Vazquez as a right back at the start of the second half. Lethargic until then, Madrid surged forward in waves and Vazquez helped start the move that led to Marcelo's goal. Valverde then made three moves that all contributed directly to goals by catching Madrid off-balance in defense. Valverde swapped Rafinha for right back Nelson Semedo, which allowed him to move Roberto into attack. The versatile Roberto created three scoring chances for Suarez. Valverde also sent on forward Ousmane Dembele and midfielder Arturo Vidal. Dembele dribbled free in the area and crossed for Vidal to head in the fifth goal to complete Madrid's humiliation. "I thought we needed players who could use their speed because we no longer had the control we had in the first half," Valverde said. "The back-and-forth was risky. Sergi helped us get out on the attack.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Suarez hits hat-trick as Barcelona blows away Madrid

BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelona ran riot in the Clasico on Sunday, October 28, as Luis Suarez scored the hat-trick that will surely spell the end of Julen Lopetegui's time as Real Madrid coach. Barcelona were 5-1 winners, dominant at Camp Nou for all-but a 15-minute period after halftime when the otherwise ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Real Madrid suffers worst goal drought in 3 decades

      MADRID, Spain – Real Madrid failed to ease the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui and instead set the record for the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 20th, 2018

Huesca leads Barcelona 1-0 after 3 minutes before losing 8-2

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Newly promoted Huesca enjoyed short-lived celebrations on Sunday after stunning Barcelona with a goal just three minutes into their Spanish league game. But Lionel Messi provided a harsh reality check with two goals as the defending champions went on to demolish Huesca 8-2 at Camp Nou. Messi canceled out Juan "Cucho" Hernandez's opener — after a long buildup by Huesca — with an exquisite solo effort. Facing four defenders honed in on him at the edge of the area, the Argentine lured them toward the center of the field before a sudden change of foot and acceleration left one man on the turf and the rest out of position. Messi then fired a right-footed shot in off the far post for the 16th-minute equalizer. Jordi Alba provoked an own-goal from Jorge Pulido and set up Luis Suarez to make it 3-1 with the first of two goals for the Uruguay striker. Another slip in concentration let Alex Gallar score again for Huesca to make it 3-2 to Barcelona at halftime. In a lopsided second half, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic scored before Messi got his second goal and then assisted Alba. Suarez rounded off the easy win by earning and taking a penalty in stoppage time. "It burns to concede a goal on the first attack since it makes you think that you started the match far too relaxed," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Huesca gave it its all, but we found our short-passing game and ended up doing a lot of damage." Messi's brace left him level with Karim Benzema as the league's top scorers this season with four goals each. Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two teams to have won their three opening league games. HERO JOAQUIN Veteran forward Joaquin Sanchez went on as a late substitute and headed Real Betis to its first home win over crosstown rival Sevilla since 2006. The 37-year-old Sanchez scored in the 80th minute to secure the 1-0 victory at Benito Villamarin Stadium. Sanchez had missed the first two games of the season due to injury after having an excellent campaign in 2017-18. "This is a dream debut for the season," Sanchez said. It was Betis' first goal of the campaign. VALENCIA WINLESS Valencia started this season with the two objectives of doing well on its long-awaited return to the Champions League and maintaining a top-four finish in Spain. But three matches into the season and Marcelino Garcia's team has yet to win. Valencia twice had to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at 10-man Levante, its crosstown rival, on Sunday. Roger Marti scored both goals for Levante, with Denis Cheryshev making it 1-1 before Dani Parejo split the points by converting a penalty early in the second half. Levante's Coke Andujar picked up a second booking in the 76th. "We have conceded five goals in three games," Marcelino said. "I don't like my team when it doesn't have the ball." VAR GIVETH, VAR TAKETH The video assistant referee awarded a penalty in favor of Espanyol and annulled a goal by the Barcelona-based side in a 2-1 loss at Alaves. Leo Baptistao converted the penalty, only for Alaves to fight back with goals by Borja Baston and Ruben Sobrino......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

Spain and Portugal reach World Cup knockout round

        MOSCOW - Spain and Portugal reached the World Cup last 16 on Monday after two dramatic final group games dominated by VAR decisions.   Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco to top Group B thanks to a late Iago Aspas equalizer that was referred to the video assistant referee and Iran held Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to a 1-1 draw.   Fernando Hierro's Spain, the 2010 world champions, will play Russia in the next round in Moscow on Sunday while European champions Portugal face Uruguay in Sochi the previous day....Keep on reading: Spain and Portugal reach World Cup knockout round.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

Caretaker Hierro leaving his mark on Spain at World Cup

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro gestures as he speaks to his player Spain's Koke during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russ.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2018

WORLD CUP: Spain ready to leave coaching woes in the past

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro, top centre, touches his forehead as gives instructions to his players during Spain's official training on the eve of the group B match between Portugal and Sp.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Ronaldo 3, Spain 3: Star s hat trick earns draw

MOSCOW (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, capped by a dipping free kick in the 88th minute as Portugal and Spain played to a wild 3-3 draw in the Group B opener for both countries in the World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice in the first half, only to see Spain rally for a 3-2 lead after two goals in three minutes early in the second half. Nacho Fernandez put Spain in front with a weaving half-volley from outside the penalty area in the 58th  that bounced off the inside of the far post and trickled into the net.  Ronaldo had one more brilliant moment to come. Earning a free kick from about 20 yards out, Ronaldo's shot got just high enough over the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Goalkeeper David De Gea never moved and the Iberian neighbors each earned a point.  Ronaldo scored on a penalty kick he earned in the fourth minute and again just before halftime on a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area that De Gea should have saved.  Diego Costa scored twice for the Spaniards, including a 55th-minute tally off a beautiful set piece set up by Andres Iniesta's chip to the end line and a Sergio Busquets header back into the middle of the penalty area. The draw capped a week of turmoil for Spain after the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Shellshocked Spain faces Portugal in early World Cup treat

MOSCOW, Russia – Spain and Portugal clash on Friday, June 15,  in an early highlight of the World Cup in Russia as the Spanish camp insists the players are united despite this week's extraordinary sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui. Egyptian fans, meanwhile, will hold their breath to see if prolific Liverpool ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Shellshocked Spain face Portugal in early World Cup treat

MOSCOW: Spain and Portugal clash on Friday in an early highlight of the World Cup in Russia as the Spanish camp insist they are united despite this week’s extraordinary sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui. Egyptian fans, meanwhile, will hold their breath to see if prolific Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah really has recovered from the shoulder [...] The post Shellshocked Spain face Portugal in early World Cup treat appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Spain in chaos 2 days before World Cup after coach fired

Spanish football president Luis Rubiales attends a press conference at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Krasnodar, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The Spanish soccer federation has fired coach Julen.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Spain sacks coach on eve of World Cup

KRASNODAR, Russia (UPDATED) – Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui on the even of the 2018 World Cup – and just two days before the team's opening game against Portugal – Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on Wednesday, June 13. In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Spain held by Switzerland ahead of World Cup

VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — Spain couldn't manage more than a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in its final match before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. Spain was in control from the start but failed to capitalize on its chances and paid the prize after a second-half blunder by goalkeeper David de Gea. Alvaro Odriozola opened the scoring for the hosts with a neat volley from just outside the area in the 29th minute. Ricardo Rodriguez equalized for the Swiss in the 62nd after De Gea dropped the ball in front of goal while trying to hold on to a weak shot from inside the area. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was satisfied with his team's performance despite the draw. "I liked that we were able to create many scoring opportunities against a difficult team like Switzerland," Lopetegui said. "We played at a high level. There were a lot of positives." The result kept Spain unbeaten in 19 matches since Lopetegui took over after the 2016 European Championship. "We played well," said Odriozola, who was making only his third appearance with the national team. "It was a good tune-up for the challenge that awaits us. We leave in good spirits." Spain, which will travel to Russia on Thursday, wasn't at full strength as defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets was dropped from the starting lineup after falling ill with gastroenteritis. Real Madrid players also weren't fully available after reporting late to the squad because of the Champions League final. Sergio Ramos, Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and Dani Carvajal didn't even travel for the match in Villarreal, although Nacho Fernandez, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were second-half substitutes. Fernandez nearly scored Spain's winner with a shot that hit the post in second-half injury time. Lopetegui played with Diego Costa and Iago Aspas up front, while Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta and David Silva were in midfield. Cesar Azpilicueta and Gerard Pique started in central defense. Spain will head to Russia looking to rebound from early eliminations at the 2016 European Championship and the 2014 World Cup. La Roja won Euro 2012, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008. Spain's final warmup match will be against Tunisia on Saturday in Krasnodar, the team's base in Russia. Its first game at the World Cup is against European champion Portugal on June 15. Spain's next Group B matches will be against Iran on June 20 and Morocco on June 25. Switzerland will host Japan on Friday in its final warmup match before its World Cup opener against Brazil on June 17 in Group E. It then faces Serbia on June 22 and Costa Rica on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Madrid draws at Villarreal 2-2 before Champions League final

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid showed Liverpool its strengths and weaknesses a week before their Champions League final. Madrid squandered first-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in drawing at Villarreal 2-2 on Saturday in its last match before attempting to win Europe's most coveted trophy for a third year in a row. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane aligned what could be his starting 11 for the final against Liverpool, except for giving 20-year-old son Luca Zidane his competitive debut in goal. Zidane left striker Karim Benzema on his bench in favor of starting Ronaldo and Bale alone up front and playing Francisco "Isco" Alarcon along with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as playmakers in front of holding midfielder Casemiro. Madrid showed the same dominant form that has taken it to another Champions League final in the first half at Villarreal. But after Ronaldo and Modric were replaced by Benzema and Lucas Vazquez with half an hour remaining, Zidane's bunch displayed the same complacency and faulty defending that scuttled its Liga title defense months ago. The draw in the final round meant Madrid finished the Spanish league in third place behind Atletico Madrid and champion Barcelona. Bale opened the scoring with a solo effort in the 11th minute, and Ronaldo headed in a superb cross by Marcelo just after the half-hour mark. Fifth-place Villarreal outplayed the visitors in the second half and leveled through goals by substitutes Roger Martinez in the 70th and Samuel Castillejo in the 85th. "We played a very, very good first half, with determination, scoring goals, but the second half was the exact opposite," Zidane said. "The important thing is that we didn't have any injuries and can now rest well for next weekend. We are only thinking about winning the final." Bale, who struggled for most of the season to make Zidane's first-choice 11, has finished the season strong and appears to have earned a spot in the Champions League final. His opener against Villarreal, created when he let Modric's pass run through as he spun around his marker, was his 14th goal in the last 10 rounds. "Gareth has never given up," Zidane said. "He has trained well. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that now he is scoring." Ronaldo's goal was his 26th in the league. Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the competition with 34. Castillejo snatched the draw after he raced behind Marcelo to receive a lobbed pass from Rodrigo Hernandez. Luca Zidane, who normally plays for Madrid's reserve team in the third divison, stopped his initial chipped shot but Castillejo slotted the rebound into the open net. Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al Dawsari made his Liga debut as a second-half substitute for Villarreal. ASPAS MAKES HIS CASE Iago Aspas made the most of his last chance to show Spain coach Julen Lopetegui that he deserves a spot on his World Cup squad. The striker scored twice to lead Celta Vigo's 4-2 win over Levante, taking his season tally for the league to 22, the most by a Spanish player. Aspas was regularly chosen by Lopetegui during World Cup qualifying. Celta announced after the match that coach Juan Carlos Unzue will leave the club and break his contract by mutual agreement. OTHER RESULTS Uruguay striker Christian Stuani scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to lead Girona's 2-1 win at Las Palmas. Leganes fought back while playing with 10 men for over an hour to beat Real Betis 3-2 in a farewell of coach Asier Garitano, who won't stay on after a good season for the modest Madrid club. Wissam Ben Yedder gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Alaves, and Loic Remy converted a penalty for Getafe to beat Malaga 1-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Brighter days seem to be in store for Knicks, new coach Fizdale

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst There was only one job that made sense for David Fizdale. Despite all the openings for which he interviewed, his pedigree and background -- and, let’s be honest, ambition -- made one gig stand out above the others. And it’s the one he got, with the New York Knicks. New York agreed to a four-year deal with Fizdale last week, a correct pairing of young coach and franchise that is trying to build back up the right way, with an emphasis on defense and conditioning that is right up Fizdale’s alley. No matter the occasional oddity created by working for Jim Dolan, he is an owner who has been willing to spend money when asked, and his team is in the top media market on earth. When you win there, they have parades for you in the Canyon of Heroes, and you almost always wind up in your particular sport’s Hall of Fame. You can’t not take the shot. The Knicks believe they’re in a place where the things Fizdale did in Miami and what he took to Memphis -- his philosophy of culture-building, team-building, discipline and how he connects to players -- were a good fit for where they are as a franchise. Among the 11 candidates the Knicks interviewed for the job, several had more head coaching experience than Fizdale -- whose tenure in Memphis lasted exactly 101 regular season games and six playoff games. But Fizdale checked the most boxes, and at 43, the Knicks are betting he has a lot of growing and improving to do, just as the team does. The Knicks, of course, looked into just why the Grizzlies fired Fizdale so abruptly last season, after just 19 games. Team president Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry didn’t just get started in the league last week; they know a lot of people. The chatter around the league was that Memphis chose star center Marc Gasol over Fizdale after the two clashed during the coach’s season-plus there. As I wrote just after Fizdale was fired, the deterioration in their relationship reached the point of no return when Fizdale went after Gasol hard in a film session, basically dismissing the importance of Gasol’s accomplishments overseas, including as a member of the Spanish national team. That that rankled Gasol to no end should have been no surprise to anyone paying attention. The Spanish team’s international triumphs are a point of considerable and understandable pride for both Marc Gasol and his brother, Pau. They helped lead Spain to the greatest era of basketball accomplishment in that country’s history, including a 2006 gold medal at what was then called the FIBA World Championships. Fizdale tried to fix things with Gasol, even flying to Europe after the season to try and make it right. But Gasol was close with majority owner Robert Pera; Fizdale wasn’t. That closed off a potential area of outreach between the two. Gasol had no interest in rapprochement, a stance that Grizzlies players made clear to Fizdale throughout the season. (Caught most in the middle, per league sources, was Grizzlies veteran point guard Mike Conley, Jr., who did and does have strong relationships with both men.) But, importantly, in his discussions with the Knicks, Fizdale took responsibility for his failures with Gasol. He didn’t blame Gasol or anyone else. As one of his chief calling cards is connecting with players, and not finding common ground with Gasol was an L he has to take. “He knew where he messed up and what he’d try to let it never happen again,” said a source who’s spoken with Fizdale since his firing. But, equally importantly, just because Fizdale couldn’t make it work with Gasol doesn’t mean he’s doomed to a similar outcome with All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis. The 22-year-old’s relationship with the Knicks has been scrutinized within an inch of its life the last couple of years. The toxicity level reached under former president Phil Jackson has abated some, but Porzingis and the team still have some navigation to do -- a trip that is blurred as Porzingis continues rehabbing and recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in February. (Porzingis’s brother, Janis, who serves as his agent, politely declined comment on the Fizdale hire via text Saturday, though the Knicks were in contact with Janis Porzingis during the coaching search.) Porzingis’s injury keeps the Knicks in flux, a position it seems they’ve been in most years since the Nixon administration. He is a potential superstar -- “potential” is used quite deliberately here, as “The Unicorn’s” stans on social media have made a very talented offensive player into something that he is not, at least not yet -- a transcendent player. But, assuming Porzingis ultimately makes a full and healthy return, New York has a terrific building block around which to build. And, they have a chance to really get in the game in the summer of 2019. First, they’ll have to resolve Joakim Noah’s status -- he has two years and roughly $38 million left on his current deal. It’s likely the Knicks will stretch him and the only question is whether that happens before or after next season. If it’s the former, the Knicks can spread the remainder of his salary across five seasons; if the latter, three seasons. Nothing is certain, but it would be surprising to see Noah still in New York by the start of camp. Why saddle a new coach with an old problem? That would leave the Knicks with more flexibility going into ’19, which is when Perry has said he’d like New York to be ready to pounce in free agency -- and when the likes of Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard (player option) and Jimmy Butler (player option) can be free agents. But until that bridge year, Fizdale will have to max out the existing roster. Charitably, there’s not a lot there at present that’s proven and has led to much winning anywhere. The Knicks will need to be lucky in next week’s Lottery -- preferably, getting a high enough pick to land one of the elite big men that should be among the top four or five picks in the Draft. If that doesn’t happen, the hope in New York is that until the roster improves, Fizdale can develop the talents of the Knicks’ trio of guards -- Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway, Jr. -- in which New York has invested Draft and literal treasure the last couple of seasons. (It will help that Fizdale’s relationship with Hardaway, Jr., goes back to when the latter was a kid and his father, the master of the killer crossover, worked in the Heat organization after Tim Hardaway Sr.’s playing days ended.) The additional hope is that Fizdale will get Ntilikina in elite shape while honing his competitive edge, and that a full season under Fizdale will let the Knicks know once and for all if Mudiay can be a significant contributor. Fizdale will also have to adjust his nomenclature. Last week’s story in the New York Daily News correctly identified Fizdale’s consistent referencing “the Miami Way” as shorthand for how he wanted to do things in Memphis alienated Grizzlies people who were -- again, justifiably -- proud of the “Grit-n’Grind” era that produced seven straight playoff appearances before this season’s 22-60 crater. And, he’ll have to be prepared to be, perhaps, the biggest face of the franchise, in a city whose media is dogged and nonplussed and will often go off cockeyed in a crazy, incorrect direction. But its influence should never be underestimated. Fizdale is from Los Angeles, and he has a great way with most. And it didn’t hurt him to work some for ESPN while he was between jobs. But he’ll have to learn the media landscape in New York quickly -- who to befriend, who to be wary of, who he can trust and who he cannot. (Also: I’m sure the Knicks pointed out to him that while he had several causes which were near and dear to him in Memphis, from advocating the removal of Confederate statues in the city to lending his name to other civic causes, he needs to win games in Gotham first.) At base, the Knicks will want to see players throughout the roster held accountable, and charged to compete on a nightly basis. There was not enough of either last season under coach Jeff Hornacek -- who, in fairness, didn’t have all that much time to put his stamp on what was a poor roster. Fizdale will get more time. The Knicks’ roster will look a lot different in two years than it does now. Fizdale will have to be a lot different coach than he was in Memphis, as well. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018