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World Cup News: Spain Fire National Coach Julen Lopetegui!

In major news coming on the eve of the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain manager. Will this have a seismic impact on the tournament, or merely give minimal pause? Are you dumping any (or all) Spanish players from you fantasy teams, or are you holding steady?

Spain Press Conference - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Not the best body language from Luis Manuel Rubiales & Co at a press conference regarding the dismissal of Spanish national team coach Julen Lopetegui.
Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

Well, something like this does not happen very often. Julen Lopetegui was recently hired to become the Real Madrid head coach following the exit of Zinedine Zidane. Now Lopetegui has been given the pink slip by Spain, one of the top favorites to win the World Cup, which begins tomorrow! What are the team’s prospects after handing the helm to sporting director Fernando Hierro?

This is Spain, which won the World Cup in 2010, along with Euro crowns in 2008 and 2012. Many of its players are veterans who have been through those glory years, so from that perspective, perhaps this will merely be a blip on the radar, easily forgotten and overcome. The players know the plan, they know what they’re doing, they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. It’s not like Lopetegui was going to come up with some brash new system. All Hierro has to do is calm things down and merely keep the continuity going, right?

On the other hand, this is actually kind of crazy. Something like this simply does not happen. Fingers are going to be pointed, and it could get ugly. There have always seemed to be simmering difficulties between Barcelona and Real Madrid players (and fans) coexisting peacefully on the national team. In the past, in good times, the team has united together and overcome any such issues. Now, something like this could easily tear fresh, deep wounds that may not heal in short order. It’s simply amazing that the national federation, the Real Madrid brass, and Lopetegui could not have coordinated this together behind the scenes in such a way as to avoid such momentous tumult at this precarious time.

Yesterday I looked at national team player ownership by fantasy sides.

Spain was not as top-heavy as other teams, but it was the deepest squad, with a whopping 10 of its players owned by at least 5% of fantasy managers. Has anything changed? At the moment, compared to yesterday, no, not really:

  • In midfield, nothing has changed, with Isco (22%), Marco Asensio (11%), Andres Iniesta (6%), Thiago Alcantara (6%) and Sergio Busquets (5%) still at the same fantasy ownership levels.
  • In defense, Sergio Ramos has actually gone up from 18% to 19% ownership, while otherwise things are the same for Dani Carvajal (7%), Jordi Alba (6%) and Gerard Pique (6%).
  • Keeper David De Gea has remained at 16%.
  • Forwards are still avoided by fantasy managers like the plague.

So no, there has been no dent in terms of fantasy love, at least not yet. Will there be an exodus between now and the deadline, though? Will fantasy managers drop any of their Spanish players, or hold firm? And will those who picked Spain to win group B now turn to Portugal? Is it time to turn to Cristiano Ronaldo, Rui Patricio, and others you may have been avoiding? After all, the two play each other in their first game that will likely decide the group.

If Spain does finish second to Portugal, what impact does that have on the rest of everybody’s projected bracket for the knockout stage? Even worse, Spain didn’t get through the group stage in 2014. Might disaster strike again, with a repeat of that in 2018 now?

After digesting the major news of Spain’s manager turnover on the eve of the World Cup opener, are you making any changes to your fantasy teams? Or is this much ado about nothing, with no impact whatsoever on your fantasy thoughts? Let us know in the comments!