Life&Culture

Spain coach Lopetegui shows respect for rivals following World Cup draw

Spain coach Lopetegui shows respect for rivals following World Cup draw

The coaches of the 2018 World Cup favourites welcomed a draw that keeps majority apart in the group phase - with the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and 2010 winners Spain.

"We know it will be a tough mission against two of the biggest national teams in the world; Spain and Portugal, but we have to believe in our chances", Belhanda told France Football. "To play against Spain, Portugal and Morocco will be a great opportunity for our players to show why they are here and especially to show that they deserve to be here", the former Real Madrid coach added.

Lionel Messi's quest to deliver World Cup glory for Argentina could pit the two-time champions against a handful of familiar faces in a potential quarter-final showdown with Spain.

"They are something other than just Cristiano", Lopetegui said. Performance against defending World Champions, and bookies favourites, Germany could well determine who qualifies, as it did for the Boys in Green in 2002.

If we simply total the Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings for each group, France's Group C looks like the toughest group with a combined ranking of 71.

His current contract, signed in the wake of first round elimination in the 2014 World Cup, runs until the end of the Russian Federation tournament. Spain are naturally favourites, as I've always said.

Lionel Messi and his Argentina team which struggled to qualify will play World Cup debutants Iceland as well as a unsafe Croatia outfit and Nigeria.

They'll face off June 15 in their opening game, and the victor likely will go on to win the group and set the stage for progression deep into the knockout phase and perhaps all the way to the final.

The tournament kicks off on June 14, when host nation Russian Federation takes on Saudi Arabia in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, which will also host the final on July 15.

A side that looks like it benefited from an easy group is England, one of only eight countries to have won the World Cup but which bagged its lone title in 1966.

France coach Didier Deschamps will be confident of winning Group C ahead of Australia, Peru and Denmark. "They are the champions of Europe and they have fantastic players", Lopetegui told Spanish TV station Cuatro.

"It will be a tough group".


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