Eleven matches, eight wins and three draws. Julen Lopetegui's reign as Spanish national team coach indeed is impressive and everything points to that winning run continuing tonight in Liechtenstein. He inherited a squad that was in a negative spiral, lacking self confidence and with an ability to switch off too easily despite still being able to put in a decent performance. With the core of the Euro 2016 squad and a few notable new additions the likes of Sergio Ramos, Piqué, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Silva, Iniesta remain key elements to Lopetegui's version of "La Roja". They too were culpable for moments of insecurity at the European Championships but as a collective the team has rediscovered a sense of belief.
Praise for Villar
Julen Lopetegui has enough reasons to feel content with his spell as head coach despite his natural sense of modesty refusing to permit any type of premature euphoria. He's in control and the team have one foot in the 2018 Russia World Cup after their impressive win against direct rival Italy at the Bernabeu on Saturday night with the game being particularly memorable for Isco, Iniesta, Villa and Piqué. In one of his post match interviews the coach made positive comments about his former boss, Angel Maria Villar, despite the corruption scandal which has engulfed the former President of the FA whilst other members of the federation are doing their best to ensure that the 67 year old executive plays no role in the Spanish game.
Night of euphoria
Lopetegui claimed in his squad presentation press conference that he would not field any Villar related questions which is quite understandable. After the Italy game he proceeded to launch this message of affection which in my opinion was out of place. It seemed like a stroke of opportunism: a packed press room just after demolishing the Italian team and with euphoria in the air. It was a unnecessary stain on an otherwise impeccable night and was highly inappropriate. Despite this misguided message of support for his former boss at least he was upfront and open unlike many of Villar's beneficiaries whose current only concern is their own salvation.