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August 2018
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Former Barca coach Enrique tasked with reviving Spain
 
Madrid, July 9 (AFP) Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was appointed Spain's new coach on Monday after previous incumbent Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the World Cup in what turned out to be a disappointing campaign.

"Luis Enrique's appointment as coach for the next two years was approved unanimously," Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation, told reporters. The 48-year-old faces a similar challenge to the one that he had when he took over at Barcelona in 2014.

A team with a history of success, a talented squad and a distinctive style of playing, had just failed to win a trophy for the first time in six years.

With Spain, Enrique must revive a side that won three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012 but are deflated after three failures, the latest their World Cup loss to hosts Russia -- ranked 70th in the world -- on penalties in the last 16.

Before that, Spain were humiliated at the hands of the Netherlands in 2014 and beaten by Italy at Euro 2016 -- their winning streak but a distant memory.

Enrique will be taking over from Lopetegui, who was fired by Rubiales when the coach announced he had signed to take over at Real Madrid.

Spain's then sporting director Fernando Hierro stepped in hastily to replace him and led the team to the last 16, before stepping down after the tournament.

Changing the coach two days before Spain's opening game probably did not benefit the side's chances.

With Hierro in place, there were positive signs against Portugal, when Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick overshadowed an assured Spain performance in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

But defensive errors and tactical rigidity soon came to the fore as poor displays followed against Iran, Morocco and Russia.

Enrique will also be taking over a team shorn of captain Andres Iniesta, who has retired from international football.


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