Lopetegui Axed Ahead of the World Cup
Spain’s 2018 World Cup plans have been thrown into disarray following the dismissal of head coach Julen Lopetegui. The 51-year-old agreed a deal to become the next Real Madrid manager earlier this week and federation president Luis Rubiales was unhappy with the timing of the announcement and has acted accordingly. He told the press that he was unable to accept the way Lopetegui handled the situation. Rubiales is believed to have only been informed of the news five minutes before the official announcement.
Many of the Spanish players including Sergio Ramos were believed to be keen on Lopetegui remaining in charge for the duration of the tournament but their wishes could not be granted.
He had been in charge of the national side since 2016 and remained unbeaten throughout his tenure. He took over from the outgoing Vincente Del Bosque following Spain’s Euro 2016 exit.
Spain have been drawn in Group B alongside Portugal, Morocco and Iran and will face their Iberian neighbours in their opener on June 15th. They’ve been priced at 24/23 with 888Sport to beat Fernando Santos’ side and many punters will still be keen to take the 1/2 on offer for La Roja to finish top of their section. A Spain/Portugal straight forecast appears to be the most likely outcome and can be backed at 15/13.
It is believed that Albert Celades and sporting director Fernando Hierro will take temporary charge of the team throughout the tournament.
Marcus Rashford Absent from Training
Marcus Rashford missed England’s training session on May 13th after picking up an injury. The Manchester United striker picked up a ‘slight knock’ and was forced to sit out of the latest session. He will be assessed by the team’s medical staff ahead of their opener with Tunisia on June 18th. He is the only injury doubt ahead of their Group G opener.
Betfair offer a standout price of 14/1 for Rashford to be England’s top goalscorer in Russia. Harry Kane remains the 8/11 favourite in this market.
Paddy Power have priced England up as 2/5 favourites against Tunisia and they will be expected to begin their World Cup 2018 campaign with three points.