Luis Rubiales stands by decision to relieve Julen Lopetegui of Spain duties


Coach Stanislav Cherchesov, still refusing to show any sign of the huge relief he must be feeling after steering the hosts out of the group phase against most Russians' expectations, would not discuss his emotions and put the result down to packing a five-man defensive line to smother Spain.

"The match. was a horror".

Spain's World Cup campaign began and ended on a sour note, Julen Lopetegui replaced as head coach on the eve of the finals by Fernando Hierro.

"It's not an easy decision, on the contrary, I've been thinking about it a lot during the past months".

Diario AS looks at the age of several key players in the Spain side, such as Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, as well as Sergio Ramos and says the defeat means "the end of a generation" of players who gave Spain their greatest-ever success eight years ago.

The Barcelona-based Sport newspaper criticised Real Madrid, the Catalan club's bitter rivals, for "blowing apart the Roja's chances" by approaching Lopetegui when they did. "We won three major tournaments back to back", Hierro said, referring to Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

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"Just like the whole country, Putin watched the game from start to finish and cheered for our (lads)", Peskov said. It is also being widely reported that both Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will retire from worldwide football in the coming weeks, meaning that only Sergio Busquets remains from the starting eleven who won the World Cup in 2010.

Andres Iniesta, 34, and Gerard Pique, 31 - who won the World Cup alongside Ramos in 2010 - have already confirmed that they are leaving the national setup following a third straight disappointment at an worldwide tournament. "I would have taken winning the group, playing as we played", he said. "The man of the match is our team - and our fans".

Despite dominating possession in Sunday's last 16 match against Russia, Spain only managed to create a handful of serious attacking opportunities. We were hoping for penalties and that's what happened. The illusion and will to continue are total but I've always said I will do what's best for the national team.

"Sometimes the endings are not as one dreams", added the former FC Barcelona player. "But life goes on and we need to think of other things now".

"In football, when you lose it's because you missed many things".