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World Cup 2018: Spain sack manager Julen Lopetegui two days before first match

Spain have sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui after he was named the new Real Madrid boss, two days before their opening World Cup match with Portugal.

Real Madrid announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu on a three-year deal.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said it had dismissed the 51-year-old because the negotiation occurred "without any information to the RFEF".

Spain sporting director Fernando Hierro will take charge for the World Cup.

The former Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers defender is in his second spell as sporting director, having returned to the role in November 2017, six years after leaving the position.

The tournament starts on Thursday in Russia.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales, who was told of Lopetegui's new role with Real five minutes before it was announced, said he had found himself in "a very difficult situation".

"I know there's going to be criticism whatever I do," he added.

"I'm sure this will, in time, make us stronger. I admire Julen very much, I respect him very much. He seems a top trainer and that makes it harder to make the decision.

"You can't do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make this decision."

Lopetegui became Spain manager in 2016 following Vicente del Bosque's retirement, and remained unbeaten through his reign.

Spain won 14 of 20 games with Lopetegui in charge, drawing the remaining six.

According to reports in Spain, Rubiales was incensed when he discovered Lopetegui had agreed a deal with Madrid.

He left a Fifa Congress meeting in Moscow early in order to return to Spain's base in Krasnodar.

It has been claimed senior players - including captain Sergio Ramos - fought for Lopetegui to remain in charge for the duration of the World Cup.

Spain begin their World Cup campaign against Portugal on Friday in a match live on BBC One (19:00 BST kick-off).

lopetegui
Lopetegui was named Spain boss in 2016 and was unbeaten during his time in charge

Analysis

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague

Maybe the Spanish FA should have just smacked Lopetegui's hand, and said "naughty boy," but let's continue because two days later we have to face Portugal.

But within the squad the players were divided as well. Now, by getting rid of Lopetegui, everybody can focus on one thing. You've seen it in history that when big obstacles get overcome and everybody gets joined together, it can actually benefit the national side, even though right now it's a big drama.

Fernando Hierro knows the federation and knows the players. He was really crucial in 2010 after Spain lost their opening game against Switzerland. He got everyone together and he's got the talent to do that again.

Do I think Spain can still go far in the World Cup? Put it this way, is Isco still playing? Is Aspas still on the bench but scoring goals? Diego Costa? Sergio Ramos? Gerard Pique? Jordi Alba? The team is still strong.

In terms of them taking their minds off a game it's not possible. Players just focus, they get into the action and nothing else matters.

But of course they love the easy life that they're not going to get outside of when they are actually playing. For them, the matches will be a chance to escape the noise that has already been produced and will continue to be produced over the next few weeks.


Source: BBC Sport

Russia 2018 World Cup schedule: Dates, start times, complete fixtures, TV channel, live stream info

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner. In just about three days, the greatest soccer players on the planet will take center stage in Russia. The tournament returns to Europe for the first time since it was held in Germany in 2006, and there's no shortage of storylines. Is this the year that Lionel Messi finally wins the only major trophy missing in his list of career achievements? It's been a 32-year drought for Argentina. Like Messi, who was not born the last time the Albiceleste lifted the World Cup trophy, the window may be closing for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will try to power Portugal, the 2016 Euro winners, to another title. What about Neymar, who is recovering from a broken foot? Will he be fit to lead a promising Brazil team to its sixth World Cup title? 

The hosts will get the party underway on June 14 against Saudi Arabia, and on July 15 a new world champion will be crowned. 

Fox and Telemundo have the TV rights for this edition of the World Cup, which means games will air on Fox, Fox Sports 1 in English and on Telemundo and NBC Universo in Spanish. You can stream all World Cup games in English or Spanish on fuboTV (Try for free).

Below you'll find the complete schedule, scores and TV listings for this summer's tournament:

  • When: June 14 through July 15
  • English-speaking TV: Fox and Fox Sports 1
  • Spanish-speaking TV: Telemundo and NBC Universo
  • Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App  
Thursday, June 14


Russia vs. Saudi Arabia

11 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox

Friday, June 15


Egypt vs. Uruguay

8 a.m. ET

Yekaterinburg

FS1

Morocco vs. Iran

11 a.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox

Portugal vs. Spain

2 p.m. ET

Sochi

Fox

Saturday, June 16


France vs. Australia

6 a.m. ET

Kazan

FS1

Argentina vs. Iceland

10 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox

Peru vs. Denmark

12 p.m. ET

Saransk

FS1

Croatia vs. Nigeria

3 p.m. ET

Kaliningrad

FS1

Sunday, June 17


Costa Rica vs. Serbia

8 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox

Germany vs. Mexico

11 a.m. ET

Moscow

FS1

Brazil vs. Switzerland

2 p.m. ET

Rostov

FS1

Monday, June 18


Sweden vs. South Korea

8 a.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

FS1

Belgium vs. Panama

11 a.m. ET

Sochi

FS1

Tunisia vs. England

2 p.m. ET

Volgograd

FS1

Tuesday, June 19


Poland vs. Senegal

8 a.m. ET

Moscow

FS1

Colombia vs. Japan

11 a.m. ET

Saransk

Fox

Russia vs. Egypt

2 p.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox

Wednesday, June 20


Portugal vs. Morocco

8 a.m. ET

Moscow

FS1

Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia

11 a.m. ET

Rostov

Fox

Iran vs. Spain

2 p.m. ET

Kazan

Fox

Thursday, June 21


France vs. Peru

8 a.m. ET

Yekaterinburg

FS1

Denmark vs. Australia

11 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox

Argentina vs. Croatia

2 p.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

Fox

Friday, June 22


Brazil vs. Costa Rica

8 a.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

FS1

Nigeria vs. Iceland

11 a.m. ET

Volgograd

Fox

Serbia vs. Switzerland

2 p.m. ET

Kaliningrad

Fox

Saturday, June 23


Belgium vs. Tunisia

8 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox

Germany vs. Sweden

11 a.m. ET

Sochi

Fox

South Korea vs. Mexico

2 p.m. ET

Rostov

Fox

Sunday, June 24


England vs. Panama

8 a.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

FS1

Japan vs. Senegal

11 a.m. ET

Yekaterinburg

Fox

Poland vs. Colombia

2 p.m. ET

Kazan

Fox

Monday, June 25


Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt

10 a.m. ET

Volgograd

Fox/FS1

Uruguay vs. Russia

10 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox/FS1

Iran vs. Portugal

2 p.m. ET

Saransk

Fox/FS1

Spain vs. Morocco

2 p.m. ET

Kaliningrad

Fox/FS1

Tuesday, June 26


Australia vs. Peru

10 a.m. ET

Sochi

Fox/FS1

Denmark vs. France

10 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox/FS1

Iceland vs. Croatia

2 p.m. ET

Rostov

Fox/FS1

Nigeria vs. Argentina

2 p.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox/FS1

Wednesday, June 27


South Korea vs. Germany

10 a.m. ET

Kazan

Fox/FS1

Mexico vs. Sweden

10 a.m. ET

Yekaterinburg

Fox/FS1

Switzerland vs. Costa Rica

2 p.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

Fox/FS1

Serbia vs. Brazil

2 p.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox/FS1

Thursday, June 28


Japan vs. Poland

10 a.m. ET

Volgograd

Fox/FS1

Senegal vs. Colombia

10 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox/FS1

England vs. Belgium

2 p.m. ET

Kaliningrad

Fox/FS1

Panama vs. Tunisia

2 p.m. ET

Saransk

Fox/FS1

Saturday, June 30


Round of 16: Match 50: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up

10 a.m. ET

Kazan

Fox/FS1

Round of 16: Match 49: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up

2 p.m. ET

Sochi

Fox/FS1

Sunday, July 1


Round of 16: Match 51: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up

10 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox/FS1

Round of 16: Match 52: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up

2 p.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

Fox/FS1

Monday, July 2


Round of 16: Match 53: Group E winner vs. Group F runner-up

10 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox/FS1

Round of 16: Match 54: Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up

2 p.m. ET

Rostov

Fox/FS1

Tuesday, July 3


Round of 16: Match 55 (Group F winner vs. Group E runner-up)

10 a.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox/FS1

Round of 16: Match 56 (Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up)

2 p.m. ET

Rostov

Fox/FS1

Friday, July 6


Quarterfinal: Match 57 (Match 49 winner vs. Match 50 winner)

10 a.m. ET

Nizhny Novgorod

FS1

Quarterfinal: Match 58 (Match 53 winner vs. Match 54 winner)

2 p.m. ET

Kazan

FS1

Saturday, July 7


Quarterfinal: Match 60 (Match 55 winner vs. Match 66 winner)

10 a.m. ET

Samara

Fox

Quarterfinal: Match 59 (Match 51 winner vs. Match 52 winner)

2 p.m. ET

Sochi

Fox

Tuesday, July 10


Semifinal: Match 61 (Match 57 winner vs. Match 58 winner)

2 p.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox

Wednesday, July 11


Semifinal: Match 62 (Match 59 winner vs. Match 60 winner)

2 p.m. ET

Moscow

Fox

Saturday, July 14


Third-place match: Match 63 (Match 61 loser vs. Match 62 loser)

10 a.m. ET

Saint Petersburg

Fox

Sunday, July 15


Final: Match 64 (Match 61 winner vs. Match 62 winner)

11 a.m. ET

Moscow

Fox

Source: CBS Sport, Fifa.com



Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia – as it happened

Denis Cheryshev struck twice for Russia as the FIFA World Cup 2018 hosts thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the tournament in Moscow on Thursday. Iury Gazinsky scored after 12 minutes and Cheryshev added a second before the break after coming on as an injury replacement for Alan Dzagoev. Artem Dzuyba netted a third before terrific late efforts from Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin wrapped up Russia's first win since October to launch their Group A campaign in style.

Russia headed into the curtain raiser at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki, the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport, without a victory in over eight months and ranked a lowly 70th in the world. For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup.

Highlights of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia vs Saudi Arabia straight from Luzhniki stadium

22:30 IST: Thank you for joining us for the live blog. Do tune back in tomorrow for the Egypt vs Uruguay match.

22:25 IST: FULL TIME | Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia. What a tournament opener this has been. Delightful, delightful performance from the hosts.

22:23 IST: Goal! Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia. Aleksandr Golovin scores from the dead ball position as Russia find the back of the net for the fifth time in the game.

22:22 IST: Goal! This does it for Russia. Denis Cheryshev scores his second of the match as Russia makes it 4-0. Delightful set of skills from the Russian, beats the defender and hits the ball from the outside of the foot and beats the keeper withe ase. No keeper in the world wouldve been able to save it, says the commentator on air.

22:20 IST: Three minutes off added time in the second half.

22:16 IST: Russia misses to score off a free kick chances as Saudi Arabia's Salman Al-Faraj clears the ball with ease.

22:10 IST: 10 minutes more to go in the game.

22:02 IST: GOAL!! Another substitute score for Russia. Zobnin makes a great run down the left flank and curls the ball in and a clinical header from Artem Dzyuba gives Russia a 3-0 lead vs Saudi Arabia. Smooth sailing for Russia now. The Russian coach salutes Dzyuba as part of the goal celebration. Russia 3-0 Saudi Arabia.

21:58 IST: Abdullah Almuaiof is in the thick of things. Abdullah Almuaiouf fails to collect a straight forward pass and drops the ball near to Smolov, who tried to put it at the back of the net. However, the keeper plunged forward and took control of the ball before Russia extended their lead.

21:53 IST: One substitution each for each teams at half-an-hour mark. For Saudi Arabia, Fahad Al-Mulwallad replaces Abdullah Otayf. For Russia, Samedov makes way for Daler Kuzyaev.

21:50 IST: Russia in driver's seat as they continue to make quick runs and attack the weak Saudi Arabia defence. Saudi Arabia, on the hand, still seem ineffective.

21:42 IST: Close! Alexander Samedov takes his time and shoots the ball but misses the target by miles. It seems that Russia have picked up from where they had left in the first half. Taiseer makes a good run to reach the curling ball but fails to make connection with the ball. What an opportunity this was for Saudi Arabia. This is for the first time the Russian defence were put to work.

21:40 IST: Fedor Smolov gets a good pass and he makes the run towards the box. But the Saudi Arabian defender tackles him as he shoots the wide off the range.

21:33 IST: The second half gets underway. Russia would aim to extend their lead while Saudi Arabia will look to draw if not win.

21:20 IST: First half comes to an end. Russia lead Saudi Arabia 2-0.

21:16 IST: Two minutes of added time in the first half.

21:14: GOAL! Denis Cheryshev double Russia's advantage at the 43rd minute of the game. The substitute celebrate as he beats two Saudi Arabia defenders with beautiful skills, shoots and finds the back of the net from inside the box. Russia 1-0 Saudi Arabia.

21:10 IST: Five minutes to go and Saudi Arabia will look to gain control of the game. However, Russia, it seems, have other plans.

21:07 IST: Aleksandr Golovin makes a swift run from the right flank but the Saudi Arabia captain Osama Hawsawi was alert and tackles him tactfully in the side the penalty box. The Argentinian referee was placed placed and did not entertain any appeals.

21:02 IST: Free Kick -- Saudi Arabia gets a free kick. The ball curled in is headed over the Russian goal.

21:59 IST: Salem Al-Dawsari of Saudi Arabia get the opportunity but the ball flies over the crossbar.

21:57 IST: Saudi Arabia continue to give the ball away and Russia grab the opportunities and keep counter-attacking.

20:55 IST: SUBSTITUTION --  Alan Dzagoev is walking off the field due to a hamstring injury. Denis Cheryshev comes in place of him. It is big blow to the home team.

20:47 IST: 15 minutes have been played. Russia is keeping the possession of the ball and is continuing to attack. Saudi Arabia are looking ineffective.

20:43 IST: GOAL! Yury Gazinsky scores the opening goal of Russia World Cup 2018 in the 13th minute. Hosts Russia lead 1-0. A brilliant header from Gazinsky beats the goalkeeper easily.

20:38 IST: Russia continue to attack and put pressure on Saudi Arabia.

20:34 IST: Russia gets the first corner of the match. Yuri Zhirkov swings the ball in towards the first post where it is cleared easily.

20:32 IST: Russia begins the attack from the word go. They pierce the Saudi Arabia defence in the second minute of the game but the defenders are alert and the ball is steered clear.

20:30 IST: And it begins! The opening match of the tournament gets underway as Nestor Pitana blows his whistle and Saudi Arabia kick off.

Source: NDTV sports