The day that was meant to be marked by Griezmann saying who he loved more was shattered by a bombshell: Real Madrid announcing they'd signed Spain coach Lopetegui for three years. Three days before their opening World Cup game against Portugal, the news was an utter shock. It turns out the coach, who's been spot-on in his decision making up to now, was playing two hands at the same time, and for whatever reason the news came out early. His leadership of the group now can't be the same. The players will see him with different eyes. His dedication to the Spain cause will also be different. His head will be a mix of Spain's rivals and the pressing needs that await him at the Bernabéu: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, the goalkeeper...
Real Madrid have transferred their own problem to Spain
In all honesty, the news hit me like a shot. Not because Lopetegui will be the coach of Real Madrid for the next three years, which seems to me a decent, respectable decision. But for me the timing and the manner were horrible. There's a certain feeling of betrayal of the group he's taken to the World Cup, of his new president, Luis Rubiales, who has just renewed Lopetegui's contract, and all the Spain fans who are eagerly waiting for the World Cup and now see the coach is more interested in something else and has gone off with Real Madrid, who have solved their own problem at the expense of transferring it to the Spanish national side, which is the same as transferring it to all the football fans of Spain.
Real Madrid could have done this a different way
Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has the legal right to do what he's done. He'll pay the two million buy-out clause, an insignificant sum in these situations. Now he's got his coach, he can sleep easy. But what's happened has a cost that could have been avoided by choosing someone else or at least delaying the announcement of the agreement until after the end of the World Cup. With what they've done, Real Madrid have hurt a lot of people in Spain, something which can't just be ignored. I think this way of behaving, rudely ignoring anything that isn't in your own interests, is profoundly distasteful. However this ends, it's started very badly.