Following elimination from the 2014 World Cup after today’s 2-0 loss to Chile, Spain’s domination of world football has come to a definitive end and so to has the illustrious career of La Furia Roja manager Vicente del Bosque.
Losing his side’s first two matches by an aggregate of 7-1 is an unbefitting way of bowing out of coaching for the quiet, calm, calculating and sometimes misunderstood del Bosque.
Our friends over at Soccerly have put together a brilliant testament to the man:
Del Bosque could lay claim to being the most decorated active coach in world football having won virtually every major honor at club and international level. After leading Real Madrid to two Champions League and two La Liga titles in three-and-a-half years in charge of Los Blancos, the call came to succeed Luis Aragones as Spain boss following their victory at the European Championships in 2008.
Taking over a side that had won its first major tournament in 44 years appeared a difficult act to follow, but Del Bosque’s calm demeanor and conservative tactics allowed Spain’s ludicrously talented generation to flourish. Two years after his appointment, Del Bosque led Spain to their first World Cup triumph in South Africa and followed that success by defending their European title in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
Del Bosque arrived in Brazil hoping to join Italian Vittorio Pozzo as the only man to win the World Cup twice as a coach and become the first man to lead his side to three successive major tournament victories. It wasn’t to be. As someone who has never clambered to the top of the tallest tower to sing his own praises, he has at times perhaps been denied the accolades he deserves.
Many have contended that he was lucky to have coached the Real ‘galacticos’ followed by Spain’s golden generation. But in Madrid he expertly managed a dressing room full of bloated egos while with La Roja he has united the warring factions of Real and Barcelona. After a fierce spell of four El Clasicos in 18 days in 2012 that left scars on both sides of the divide, Del Bosque said he “feared” for the future of the national team.
Yet, guided by two of his most loyal lieutenants in Real captain Iker Casillas and Barca’s most decorated player of all-time, Xavi Hernandez, the splits were mended and a year later Spain were European champions once more. “He has taught me how to live with victory,” says Casillas.”He has maintained the same calm in tough moments and on days of glory parading a trophy. He has helped us as footballers and as fans. Respect and normality is what defines him day-to-day.”
There’s little doubt that del Bosque will be criticized for his side’s performance at the 2014 World Cup, in particular his decision to stick with the old guard of Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso after performances that would have triggered most managers to make a change to the Starting XI. On the other hand, this fierce loyalty was arguably what made Spain so cohesive and so dangerous for so many years.
Either way, a legend has left the game.
WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.
Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.
It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.
Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.
Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.
Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.
Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.
Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”
However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.
That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.
“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”
Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.
All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.
La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.
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That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.
The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.
Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.
In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.
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“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”
Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”
The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.