The strength behind Julen Lopetegui

The beginning had been warm and emotional. The end, though expected, was cold and brutal.

Julen Lopetegui’s unveiling as Real Madrid manager had been a poignant affair. “If yesterday was the saddest day of my life, since the death of my mother,” he said, choking back tears, “then today is the happiest”. Madrid and their president, Florentino Perez, put their arm around him — figuratively and literally — welcoming Lopetegui ‘home’.…

Farewell Wakaso – you will be missed

It’s a crisp, sunny, January afternoon in Vitoria where the hometown team, Alaves, hold a 1-0 lead as their visitors from the south, Real Betis, attempt to turn defence into attack. A square pass is delivered infield to Sergio Canales who, sensing pressure behind him, deftly lets the ball run across his body and to his left. And then it arrives — late. …

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