Spanish Football Expert & Columnist @GuillemBalague
Guillem Balague says pride of Spanish FA to blame for team's World Cup exit
Last Updated: 02/07/18 1:03pm
Guillem Balague says the Spanish FA's decision to sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup is to blame for their exit.
The former Spain boss was sacked just two days before the team's opening World Cup fixture after agreeing to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, and replaced by Fernando Hierro.
Despite Spain looking impressive in a 3-3 draw against Portugal and beating Iran 1-0, it took a last-minute equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw with Morocco and top Group B with five points.
"The coach [Hierro] was in an impossible situation and took a lot of wrong decisions," Balague told Sky Sports.
"Iniesta left on the bench? If you actually want to play possession football - and that's what we tried to do - Iniesta has to play.
Hierro: No regrets over exit
Fernando Hierro said he had no regrets at taking the Spain job two days before the World Cup despite his side's second-round exit at the hands of hosts Russia.
"And you decide to swap one striker for the other, [Diego] Costa for [Iago] Aspas, but then end up putting on a second striker [Rodrigo]? [They should] leave Costa on the pitch.
"So there is all that, but at the root of all of this is somebody who's the head of the federation [Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales]. The federation who keep saying it's all about the process, it's all about working day by day and about an idea.
"And two days before the World Cup he [Rubiales] decides to get rid of the manager because of pride and because he hadn't been told he's going to Real Madrid with enough time.
"We are all to blame. Rubiales a little bit more than the rest."
Hierro said after the game he has "no regrets" about taking over just two days before the competition, but Balague believes the late change clearly caused a lack of cohesion in the Spanish camp.
"Imagine any good team in the history of football. And imagine if you take the head of that, the leader, the coach, the manager, out of there. What happens is all of a sudden there is not just one opinion, there are a lot of opinions," Balague said.
"And everybody wants to have their say. And everybody has got different agendas. I'm talking about players, coaches. So all of a sudden, say Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio, they don't care about the style, they want to play.
"But actually, shouldn't we have backed the style to the end?
"What we saw is tiki-taka. Tiki-taka is the rubbish version of possession football. We can play much better. We can have more incisive passes.
"There was not a coach there that says 'this is what we want, and this is how you're going to do it' - somebody that the players will listen to. Hierro was somebody that they gave hugs before training when Lopetegui was there, and all of a sudden he's in charge?
"Lopetegui would have just made things a little bit better. But the players should be good enough to beat Russia."