Real Madrid: Julen Lopetegui sacking not justified, says Florentino Perez

But Wednesday's sensational decision by the Spanish Football Federation to sack Lopetegui, in response to the announcement he would take over at Real Madrid after the tournament, has threatened to derail their chances.

Perez referred to Lopetegui's arrival as "an act we wanted to have after the World Cup", saying: "Sadly some circumstances mean that we are here now with some excitement for the new stage of Real Madrid".

"This is special, it is my first World Cup as captain".

"There is not a single reason to get rid of him by Spain", Perez said. "We are neighbours, but also teams with great quality".

"But today is an important day for all of us".

"We just wanted to be honest with everyone - that's why we wanted to make the agreement public". I told the federation president about the agreement, which both sides were free to make.

Lopetegui has also taken some heat for the way things went down, but he insisted he was above blame for having discussions with Madrid while Spain were preparing to face Portugal in Sochi on Friday.

"We welcome someone who knows this club very well and in the last few years he has shown what a magnificent professional he is". Some people want to be more popular but I won't waste time or name them.

"I feel like I'm part of this family".

A press conference was called for Wednesday morning at 9:30 BST (4:30 ET) and then put back by an hour as speculation mounted that Spain could remove Lopetegui from his duties ahead of the tournament.

Portugal won the 2016 European Championship, has 13 players from that team in Russian Federation, and looked much like that winning squad in a 3-0 preseason victory over Algeria.

There had been fears that the announcement of Lopetegui's appointment by Real could open up old divisions between the Madrid and Barcelona factions in the Spain squad. "I came here aged 18 to play for Castilla, had the good fortune to experience what madridismo is, the values, the loyalty".

He described the day he was sacked as "the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother", and the 51-year-old former goalkeeper will surely find it hard to watch Friday's match.

He said he was initially congratulated by federation president Luis Rubiales.

Ramos argued that for sporting reasons the 51 year-old Spaniard should stay in the position that he's held for two years, since Spain lost in the Euros in France, but despite his emphatic pleas the president made a decision to get rid of the manager.


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