Spain had one of the most horrible World Cup campaigns in Russia. They underperformed in all the matches they played. In spite of dominating possession throughout their matches, Spain failed to score goals.
To begin with, Spain had a managerial fiasco just a few days before the World Cup as Julen Lopetegui was sacked after Real Madrid announced him as their manager. The Spanish Football Federation then roped in their Sporting Director Fernando Hierro to manage Spain at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Under Hierro, the Spanish team produced a string of very ordinary performances in the group stage by drawing 3-3 to Portugal, winning with a narrow margin against Iran and just about avoiding a humiliating defeat in the last match against Morocco.
Despite having 79% of the possession and completing more than 1000 passes after extra time, Spain were unable to penetrate the stubborn Russian defence. They were defeated 4-3 on penalties by Russia after the scoreline remained 1-1 at the end of extra-time.
After suffering such a humiliating defeat, Spain will have to introspect and look at where they went wrong. There is a good possibility that the Spanish Football Federation will wield the axe on Hierro’s head after Spain’s dismissal show.
Let us have a look at 3 candidates who might replace Hierro as Spain’s manager.
#1 Zinedine Zidane
Zidane has been both an extremely successful player and manager. Having been a legendary player for Real Madrid and France, he took over the role of Madrid’s manager after the sacking of Rafa Benitez on January 4, 2016.
Having won 3 successive Champions League titles for Madrid and La Liga in 2016-17, Zidane established himself as one of the most successful managers in Real Madrid’s history. He popularized the 4-4-2 diamond formation and gave chances to several youngsters at Madrid.
Having resigned 5 days after Real Madrid’s most recent Champions League victory, Zidane will be the most suitable candidate to manage Spain due to familiarity with the players and the tactical nous that brought him success at Madrid. He has the ability to make Spain invincible in world football again.
#2 Carles Puyol
Puyol was one of the best centre-backs to ever play for Spain. Having been a valuable component of Spain’s success at Euro 2008 and in their first ever World Cup triumph in 2010, Puyol was the senior most player in Spain’s golden generation. He was present at the Stadion Luzhniki yesterday and witnessed Spain crashing out of the World Cup from the stands.
Despite having no managerial experience, Puyol can become a successful coach for Spain as he has their philosophy ingrained in him. Further, being a Spanish legend and having played with or observed the current crop of Spanish players very closely, Puyol will be deeply respected as a manager and hence will not have any issues in managing them.
The Spanish Football Federation should take Puyol’s name into consideration when choosing their next manager.
#3 Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal is one of the most suitable managers that can be appointed as Hierro’s replacement. He is familiar with Spain’s style of play, having managed Barcelona twice.
Having successfully exposed the faults in Spain’s tiki-taka style when Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 in the group stage at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he will know the perfect solution to the problem which haunted Spain yet again in there humiliating exit from the 2018 World Cup yesterday. Renowned for promoting young and talented players into the senior team, he can play the crucial role of successfully managing Spain through the transition phase with many senior players likely to retire after their humiliating exit at the hands of Russia.
Louis van Gaal has won 20 major honours in his career but has not taken any major role after being sacked by Manchester United in 2016. A manager of van Gaal’s caliber has the capability to make Spain the most dominant force in world football.