5 Reasons Why Real Chose Lopetegui As Zidane Successor
5 Reasons Why Real Madrid Chose Julen Lopetegui As Zinedine Zidane Successor
Real Madrid once again shocked the football world on Tuesday, when they announced Julen Lopetegui as Zinedine Zidane's successor. Here is why Los Blancos opted for the Spain boss just three days ahead of La Furia Roja's 2018 FIFA World Cup opener.
Click through the gallery above to see some other Spanish coaches who have been in charge of Real.
No Spanish journalist or news publication saw it coming, but on Tuesday afternoon, Real announced Lopetegui as their new coach, with the Basque set to take over after Spain's World Cup campaign.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) reportedly knew about the negotiations but not about the timing of the announcement, which came just three days ahead of Spain's World Cup opener against Portugal.
Why did Real go for Lopetegui? ESPN's Spanish football expert Dermot Corrigan gave five reasons for his appointment:
1) Lopetegui was willing and able to take the job
The 51-year-old was reportedly not among the initial favourites for the job, but club president Florentino Perez soon realised that other names such as Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Joachim Low, among others, were not available right away. Lopetegui, meanwhile, jumped at the chance to lead Los Blancos.
2) Excellent work with Spain in his two years in the role
The coach had signed a contract extension on 22 May, which would have seen him stay in charge of La Furia Roja until after the 2020 UEFA European Championship. His Spain side are still unbeaten since he took over after Euro 2016, and easily qualified for the tournament in Russia. Of his 20 games in charge, Spain won 14 and drew six.
3) History with Real as a player and a coach
As a player, Lopetegui joined Real at the age of 19. He worked himself up from the club's "B" side (known as Castilla) to the first team, but only made one senior appearance, in a 3-3 draw with Atletico Madrid in 1989/90. He returned to Madrid in 2006 to head up the club's scouting department before spending a season as Castilla coach, but failed to get the B side promoted in 2009/10.
4) Made headlines with FC Porto in the Champions League
Lopetegui’s senior club experience is limited to 18 months at Porto, where he made headlines after beating Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich side 3-1 in the first leg of their 2014/15 UEFA Champions League quarter-final. The impressive result saw his name appear in Madrid when Carlo Ancelotti's time at the Santiago Bernabeu was rumouored to be coming to an end, but after losing the second leg against Bayern 6-1, that speculation seemingly ended abruptly. Lopetegui was sacked by Porto the following January after a string of poor results.
5) Knows many of the Los Blancos players really well
Six of Spain's 23 players in Lopetegui's World Cup squad are Real stars, and the former Spain U19, U20 and U21 coach has also worked with a few of the club's younger players, such as Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente and Borja Mayoral, at youth level. This means he already knows almost half of his future squad, and has good connections with rumoured club transfer targets such as David de Gea and Alvaro Odriozola.
Lopetegui is yet to lift any club trophy as a manager, but won the UEFA European U19 Championship in 2012, and the UEFA European U21 Championship a year later.
What do you make of Lopetegui's appointment as new Real's boss? Have your say in the comments section below.