Luis Enrique steps down as Spain coach due to personal issue

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Luis Enrique has stepped down as head coach of Spain after just 11 months in the job.

The 49-year-old, appointed last July, had not coached La Roja since March due to a personal issue.

Spanish football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales announced Enrique’s departure at a press conference, with assistant coach Robert Moreno set to replace him.

“Luis Enrique has announced that he will not continue as coach,” said Rubiales.

“I have to thank Luis Enrique. The doors of the federation and the national team will remain open to him.”

Enrique signed a two-year contract following his country’s disappointing 2018 World Cup campaign.

Spain won eight of 10 matches during his tenure, suffering Nations League defeats to England and Croatia.

The 2010 world champions sit top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group F with maximum points from four fixtures.

Moreno presided over the most recent three of those wins, a 2-0 success in Malta in March followed by victories over the Faroe Islands and Sweden earlier this month.

Rubiales added: “The decision of the RFEF is to trust Robert Moreno as the coach, he will continue with the same duration of the contract that was already signed.

“He will be in charge of taking us to Euro 2020 and to make a good job of it if we qualify.”

Enrique’s appointment came after his country suffered a surprise penalty shootout defeat to hosts Russia in the second round of last summer’s World Cup.

Spain had sacked Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament after he accepted the Real Madrid job, with Fernando Hierro, who was previously the RFEF’s sporting director, taking over on a temporary basis.

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Copa America: VAR and Barcelona target Wuilker Farinez frustrate Brazil in Venezuela clash

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Brazil saw three goals disallowed by Video Assistant Review as they were held by Venezuela to a goalless draw in their Copa America clash.

The hosts thought Philippe Coutinho had finally gotten them the upper hand in the final minutes of the game, but his close-range effort was ruled out after VAR showed a handball by Roberto Firmino in the build-up.

The Liverpool forward had already found himself on the wrong end of a VAR decision, which saw an effort by Gabriel Jesus disallowed.

That came after Firmino had managed to find the net in the 38th minute – but the goal was chalked off after the referee ruled he had fouled in the process.

Without injured star Neymar, the hosts appeared to lack some of the finishing power they needed to really get the better of La Vinotinto’s impressive goalkeeper.

The Group A leaders were in possession for more than two thirds of the match, with nearly 20 attempts on goal.

But they were repeatedly frustrated – despite Tite bringing on Everton, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus in the second half.

Tite’s side started with a 3-0 opening-night victory over Bolivia as they look to claim their first Copa America crown since 2007.

That task was made all the more difficult when Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar was ruled out of the competition after injuring his ankle in a warm-up win over Qatar.

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Copa America 2019: Brazil not weaker without Neymar, says captain Dani Alves

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Brazil captain Dani Alves believes the Copa America hosts are no weaker without injured star Neymar as they prepare to meet Venezuela on Tuesday.

Tite’s side started with a 3-0 opening-night victory over Bolivia as they look to claim their first Copa America crown since 2007.

That task was made all the more difficult when Paris St Germain forward Neymar was ruled out of the competition after injuring his ankle in a warm-up win over Qatar.

While Brazil aim for success without the world’s most expensive player, his club-mate in Ligue 1, Alves feels his absence can be smoothed over.

“I believe that every time we come to the national team, we wear this shirt, we have to prove we can wear it – regardless of whether or not Neymar is there,” he said at a pre-match press conference.

“We have to prove it because we represent a historical team, very respected worldwide.

“But when you have an extra (talent), like Neymar, you become a little stronger.

“But you do not weaken without it, you only increase your qualities, you increase your power, but you do not diminish without him.”

Next up for Brazil is a clash against Venezuela in Salvador.

Venezuela opened their tournament with a goalless draw against Peru in Port Alegre but will be the underdogs for their second game of the competition.

Manager Rafael Dudamel admits getting a result against the hosts will be a challenge but does not intend to park the bus in an attempt to secure an unlikely outcome.

“Playing as an equal against Brazil is silly because we know their capabilities,” he said.

“This does not mean that we are going to only be in our area and defend because we already saw what happened to Bolivia.

“We must try to play our game with great security. We are going to face a rival who, besides playing very well, are also physically very strong.”

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