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Spanish FA was right to fire Lopetegui

Spain
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Think it's easy to build Portugal around Cristiano Ronaldo? Think again

The FC crew examine how Cristiano Ronaldo has adjusted his game with age to remain one of the world's elite players.
After two very different opening World Cup matches, the FC guys talk about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's differing roles for their national teams.
ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes look ahead to Portugal-Morocco, Uruguay-Saudi Arabia and Iran-Spain and predict who'll come out on top.
The guys respond to your tweets about Cristiano Ronaldo following his heroic display for Portugal against Spain in the World Cup.

MOSCOW -- The coach as chef-assembling-ingredients metaphor is about as old as the game itself, but it remains hugely apt, particularly at World Cups. Bigger nations, naturally, have more depth and high-quality options to choose from: Germany's Jogi Low and Brazil's Tite shop at Whole Foods (or whatever local, high-end market with the individually wrapped clementines applies to you), whereas Panama coach Hernan Gomez makes do at the corner bodega, where selection is more limited.

Portugal boss Fernando...

Cristiano Ronaldo's GOAT claim hard to deny as Portugal, Spain play World Cup classic

The FC crew examine how Cristiano Ronaldo has adjusted his game with age to remain one of the world's elite players.
Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick against Spain set several World Cup and international records for the Portuguese superstar.
Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning 88th minute free-kick completed his hat trick and secured a vital 3-3 against Spain in the process.
The FC crew agree Spain and Portugal's draw in their opening match at the World Cup proved they are both a class above the rest of Group B.
The guys respond to your tweets about Cristiano Ronaldo following his heroic display for Portugal against Spain in the World Cup.

SOCHI, Russia -- That chin-stroking celebration? It's a reference to a goat. Or, rather a GOAT: greatest of all time. And while some will rightly debate his status in the farmyard, nights like these remind you that his place in the conversation ought not be doubted.

Sergio Ramos had said it a little over 24 hours earlier, when asked how he would stop Cristiano Ronaldo. "I don't know ... I just hope he doesn't have one of his best games against us."

Ramos' prophecy did not come to pass. This...

Cristiano Ronaldo makes GOAT case with hat-trick as Portugal draw Spain

Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning 88th minute free-kick completed his hat trick and secured a vital 3-3 against Spain in the process.
The FC crew examine how Cristiano Ronaldo has adjusted his game with age to remain one of the world's elite players.
The FC crew agree Spain and Portugal's draw in their opening match at the World Cup proved they are both a class above the rest of Group B.

SOCHI, RUSSIA -- Three points from Portugal and Spain's remarkable 3-3 draw at Fisht Stadium in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sublime hat-trick.

1. Ronaldo's three goals earn Portugal a point

For a guy whose deeds are so often defined by numbers, whether it's the fact that he has more goals than games for Real Madrid or the fact that nobody has more Ballon d'Or awards stashed away in his trophy cabinet, there was one that seemed out of sync before this World Cup began: three, as in the number...

Portugal are a dangerous underdog vs. Spain that you wouldn't bet against

The ESPN FC crew assess the timing of Real Madrid's first news conference unveiling new coach Julen Lopetegui after his sacking.
The PTI guys draw similarities between Spain's managerial change before the World Cup to the coaching change made before Michigan's 1989 title run.
The FC crew answer your tweets on Spain's chances at the World Cup after sacking their manager, Craig Burley and Steve Nicol's golf game and more.
Fernando Hierro revealed he couldn't let his country down after he was appointed Spain manager following Julen Lopetegui's sacking.
Spain FA President Luis Rubiales says the sacking of Julen Lopetegui was in the best interests of the Spanish Football Federation.

SOCHI, RUSSIA -- You can't help but think back to those cheesy heist movies.

"Hey Cristiano... let's get the boys together for one last big score."

"You sure? But we just nailed the big one, the Euros, two years ago. My first major international trophy and, of course, Portugal's too."

"Nah man, we got another one in us, trust me -- we'll be there with you, nobody will see us coming. The old man is on board too, you two are going to lead us one last time..."

"Wow -- you really think we can...

Spain, Hierro preach message of calm and continuity after chaotic week

The PTI guys draw similarities between Spain's managerial change before the World Cup to the coaching change made before Michigan's 1989 title run.
The FC crew answer your tweets on Spain's chances at the World Cup after sacking their manager, Craig Burley and Steve Nicol's golf game and more.
ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti delves into Julen Lopetegui's sacking as Spain manager just two days out from their World Cup opener against Portugal.
Fernando Hierro revealed he couldn't let his country down after he was appointed Spain manager following Julen Lopetegui's sacking.
ESPN FC's Stewart Robson assesses the fallout of Julen Lopetegui's sacking and believes new Spain boss Fernando Hierro has quite the challenge ahead.
Spain FA President Luis Rubiales says the sacking of Julen Lopetegui was in the best interests of the Spanish Football Federation.

SOCHI, RUSSIA -- Spain captain Sergio Ramos and his freshly installed coach, Fernando Hierro, looked like they'd rather have been in the dentist's chair than facing questions ahead of Friday's Group B opener against Portugal.

"I think I'd like this to be over now..." joked Ramos at the end. "Come on, it feels like a funeral. It's a World Cup. We're supposed to be happy."

Yet there was no escaping the heavy, suffocating mood and not just because they faced the press in an overstuffed room in...

Julen Lopetegui behaved poorly; the Spanish FA was right to fire him

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti delves into Julen Lopetegui's sacking as Spain manager just two days out from their World Cup opener against Portugal.
Fernando Hierro revealed he couldn't let his country down after he was appointed Spain manager following Julen Lopetegui's sacking.
ESPN FC's Stewart Robson assesses the fallout of Julen Lopetegui's sacking and believes new Spain boss Fernando Hierro has quite the challenge ahead.
Spain FA President Luis Rubiales says the sacking of Julen Lopetegui was in the best interests of the Spanish Football Federation.

It is easy to be cynical in the modern game. So much so that, when someone makes a stand on principle -- even if you disagree with it -- you stand up and take notice.

Perhaps you had not heard of Luis Rubiales before Wednesday. He is the head of the Spanish Football Association, and on Tuesday evening he received a call from his national team coach, Julen Lopetegui.

Rubiales listened as Lopetegui told him that, in a few minutes, Real Madrid would announce that he was to be their next manager, replacing...