Lopetegui: Spain needed to evolve

Julen Lopetegui claims Spain only needed ‘to evolve and grow their style of play’ as dropping the likes of Cesc Fabregas was in their ‘best interests’.

Lopetegui took over a Spain team who had just been eliminated from Euro 2016 at the last-16 stage, while the Coach had wrongs to right himself after his failed spell with Porto.

However, La Roja easily qualified for the World Cup under the 51-year-old, who has phased out the likes of Fabregas, Pedro Rodriguez and Iker Casillas.

“When you come from a painful moment after being knocked out of a tournament the first feeling is one of sadness, but when I arrived that sense was already passing and there was excitement to keep going, to forget that tournament and prepare for the next one,” he told Reuters.

“We found a team in great health in every sense, a side full of top players. The fact they had gone to a tournament and not done as well as expected didn’t mean everything was a mess.

“Instead, we found a great team and we are trying to carve out our own path, trying to evolve and grow the style of play we already had.

“We understood that we had to take some decisions in the best interests of the team, and you’ll always have players that are chosen and others that aren’t.

“These are players that have been so important to us and are still top but at a certain point they aren’t selected.

“That doesn’t mean they can’t come back, the doors are always open to everyone, but at the time you have to make some tough decisions.”

Spain’s dominant performances under Lopetegui have inevitably led to comparisons with their all-conquering side of 2008-12, but the former Real Madrid and Barcelona goalkeeper was quick to play them down.

“Comparing any generation to a unique generation in Spanish football and for me the best generation ever in world football is difficult, it’s not fair for the young players,” added the Basque.

“We need to have total confidence in these players, they have ability, ambition and character but they have to carve out their own path, without comparing themselves to anybody and without looking back at what happened eight years ago.

“What happened then happened, but we need to focus on what we can do in Russia without looking eight years back.

“Being favourites is no title, it’s an adjective, you win titles thanks to what you do on the pitch, and little else.

“In football you never know what can happen tomorrow, this is the elite and you have to be ready for any situation that can occur. 

“When the Spanish Football Federation called me I was delighted, I was full of hope and motivation, and here we are.”

Tags 2018 World Cup Cesc Fabregas Chelsea Iker Casillas Julen Lopetegui Pedro Rodriguez Porto Spain