Who is new Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui? – UEFA Champions League – News
On Tuesday, Real Madrid announced that Julen Lopetegui would replace Zinédine Zidane as their coach, having signed a three-year contract at the Bernabéu. On Wednesday morning, the 51-year-old was dismissed as Spain boss on the eve of their FIFA World Cup campaign. UEFA.com checks out his coaching credentials.
Lopetegui on joining Madrid
“It’s the happiest day of my life. [This has] brought back memories of when I arrived here as an 18-year-old. It was an adventure and I was lucky enough to play for Castilla and the first team. I was lucky enough to then coach Castilla and now I can do that with the first team. It’s the completion of a cycle and for that I’m made up.”
A goalkeeper who had brief spells at both Madrid and Barcelona, and featured in Spain’s 1994 World Cup squad, Lopetegui spent the bulk of his playing career with Logroñés and Rayo Vallecano, making his coaching debut with the latter in 2003.
Coaching career to date
Following a spell as a pundit, he took charge of Real Madrid’s reserves, Castilla, before leading Spain to glory at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia in 2012. He then stepped up to the national team’s Under-21 side and tasted more European success with a star-studded team in Israel, in 2013.
After an 18-month spell at Porto, between 2014 and 2016, he returned to the Spain setup, taking over from Vicente del Bosque following their UEFA EURO 2016 exit. He did not lose in his 20 matches in charge (W14 D6).
Did you know?
Lopetegui was coached by Alfredo di Stéfano at Real Madrid and Johan Cruyff at Barcelona. While at Camp Nou, he struck up a friendship with Josep Guardiola which was rekindled when Porto met Bayern in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, the German side beating his team 7-4 on aggregate.
How will his side play?
It is hard to imagine he will look to radically overhaul Madrid’s electric attack and quick transition – they have just won three UEFA Champions Leagues on the bounce, after all! With a proven track record at youth level and having ushered in a new generation of Spain stars to the full international side, there is a good chance he will need to do similarly at Madrid, with a number of their key players into their 30s.