8 years of glory, joy, titles and disappointment. We can describe Vicente del Bosque’s time as Spain national team manager with these words. After replacing Luis Aragones on the bench, Del Bosque not only continued his job, but also added his own fire and Spain became unbeatable. Three consecutive major championships – Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 – no one could stop that team with Iniesta, Xavi, Casillas, Ramos, Villa and others.
However, as it happens with almost every team, the cycle came to its end, and Spain didn’t even qualify for the play-offs in World Cup 2014. Misfortune, they said. And the RFEF gave one more chance to the former Real Madrid manager. Nevertheless, Spain let their fans down in Euro 2016, too. They were easily beaten by Italy in the final of 16. It was evident, that Spain need a change, that Del Bosque’s time in the Seleccion came to its end.
Generations come and go, it’s the usual flow of not only football, but also of the life. Casillas, Puyol, Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta,Villa, Torres… These players are those heroes that made their country proud for 6 years, but they are leaving and creating space for their younger teammates. Del Bosque also leaves, giving a chance to his younger colleague, Julen Lopetegui, a man, who has already worked with almost every Spain youth team (U19, U20, U21). As a professional goalkeeper, Lopetegui is one of those few players, that managed to play both for Real Madrid and Barcelona.
After winning U19 and U21 European championships in 2012 and 2013, Lopetegui returned to club duties on 6 May 2014, being appointed at Portugal’s FC Porto. And it was no surprise, when he decided to sign seven Spanish players to the club that summer. In his first season, he reached UEFA Champions league quarter finals with the team, but failed to overcome Bayern Munich.
Lopetegui’s time at Porto cannot be called successful, as he didn’t win any silverware. On 8th of January, 2016, after a 1-3 home defeat to Marítimo and also after being eliminated from the Champions League, Lopetegui was shown the backdoor, being replaced by Rui Barros.
Lopetegui is a tactic and he is an admirer of renowned Spanish tiki-taka. As he announced in his press conference after the appointment, “I am not going to make a revolution, but an evolution”. He will only add his own ideas to the existing playing style. What is more important, he now has to work with those players, who worked under his command in U19 and U21 teams. He clearly had a good understanding with those players, who played and reached glory under him, and they are now the new generation to replace the current one, which has been eventually losing its power. That’s why this appointment is well weighted up and can bring back the success to Furia Roja. Del Bosque was the king, while Lopetegui is the prince. The king is gone, live long the prince.