Ex Barça boss Luis Enrique takes over as Spain coach

Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique Martínez García was appointed Spain’s new coach on Monday after the 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 will have the tough task of reviving a national team deflated after three consecutive failures at major tournaments, 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 2008-2012 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.

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

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

With Hierro in place, however, 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 without key captain Andres Iniesta, who has retired from international football.