Luis Rubiales has no regrets over Julen Lopetegui sacking despite Spain's last-16 exit

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Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales insists he has no regrets over the decision to sack coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup despite La Roja’s failure to progress beyond the last 16 in Russia.

Lopetegui had been unbeaten in his 20 matches in charge but was relieved of his duties just days before Spain’s opening match against Portugal after agreeing to become the new Real Madrid boss after the tournament.

Fernando Hierro was named as stand-in coach and, although Spain finished top of Group B to reach the knockout stages, they made it no further after losing on penalties to Russia on Sunday.

Rubiales stood by his decision to dismiss Lopetegui and praised the work done by Hierro and his team.

He also said the Federation would now look at what direction to take with regards the next Spain coach.

“I don’t regret the decision taken with Lopetegui because it was done with conviction and values that aren’t influenced by subsequent results,” he said in quotes reported by the Spanish press.

Julen Lopetegui

“When a decision is made with responsibility and, above all, with values, one has to be calm.

“All my board of directors gave me unanimous support, we are very calm.

“Now we need to analyse things and see what’s best for the national team and the Federation.

“What I have clear is that I’m proud of the way Hierro and his staff have behaved. He (Hierro) has assumed this responsibility with bravery.

“In the coming weeks we will see what’s best for everyone.

“You’re always learning things, now it’s very difficult to analyse everything in an hour.

“We’re the toughest judges of ourselves and we’ll see what things can be improved.

“I’m very proud of my staff and I give them a 10. Pain? Yes, we were better, but this is sport. You must congratulate Russia.”

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Spain, the 2010 world champions, saw their hopes of glory this summer ended by the host nation despite dominating possession at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The match finished 1-1 after extra-time, Artem Dzyuba’s 41st-minute penalty cancelling out Sergei Ignashevich’s early own goal, and it was Russia who emerged winners when goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Koke and Iago Aspas.

“In sport, the best don’t always win. We’ve seen great teams who have been knocked out,” said Rubiales
“Of more than 200 countries who take part only one can win, and we’ve been among the best 16.

“I’m convinced that 99 per cent would say that Spain have been much better (than Russia).

“Of course it’s painful, but when you do things with conviction you need to be calm.”

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Andres Iniesta announces international retirement following Spain World Cup exit

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Andres Iniesta has announced his retirement from international football following Spain’s World Cup exit.

The 34-year-old, who scored Spain’s match-winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, confirmed his decision after La Roja’s last-16 loss to Russia in Moscow.

Iniesta scored Spain’s opening penalty in the shoot-out against the host nation but was powerless to prevent his side losing 4-3 on spot-kicks – having drawn the match 1-1 – and tumbling out of the tournament.

The playmaker, who recently left Barcelona to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe, won 131 caps for Spain.

He said on www.sefutbol.com: “Sometimes the finals are not how you dream them.

“It’s true that it is my last match with the national team, on a personal level it’s the end of a magnificent phase. Overall, I think it’s the saddest day of my career.”

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England captain Harry Kane limits his use of social media to 'stay away from hype'

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Harry Kane says he has limited his use of social media to help him remain focused at the World Cup.

England captain Kane is the top scorer at the tournament in Russia having struck five goals in his team’s opening two wins before being rested against Belgium.

The 24-year-old striker failed to score during the Three Lions’ disastrous Euro 2016 campaign two years ago and admitted that using sites such as Twitter then had a detrimental effect.

Asked what he learned from his first major international tournament, Kane told ITV Sport: “For me, it’s stay away from the hype of it all.

“I was so excited about the Euros, whether that was being on Twitter all the time, or being on news apps, or getting excited because you want to see what everyone’s talking about.

“I feel like it had a negative effect because I was reading too much, I was thinking too much.

“I feel like I’m at my best when I’m just free in my mind and I’m just playing football, so this tournament I’ve changed that, I’ve stayed off social media as much as possible.”

Kane, who is preparing to return to Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up for Tuesday’s match against Colombia, also revealed he has limited the number of World Games games he has watched in an attempt to ease pressure.

“(I’ve) watched some of the (other) games but not watched too many of the games where you are getting caught up in everything,” he added.

“I think that’s the best possible way to go into any tournament because it’s so big – it’s the biggest sporting event in the world – so it’s hard not to get caught up in the emotions and everything, so I just try and stay clear of that.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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