Julen Lopetegui: Sevilla Success Speaks Volumes About Real Madrid Failure

Julen Lopetegui
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It was 24 hours before Spain’s first press conference in Sochi, Russia. Probably the most bitter-sweet moment in the life of Julen Lopetegui. The Spanish manager was appointed as the next head coach of Real Madrid and sacked as the coach of Spain‘s World Cup squad for 2018.

Cut to October. Lopetegui found himself on the receiving end of another piece of bad news coming from the biggest footballing offices in Spain. He was no longer the coach of Real Madrid, all thanks to a brilliant display from their rivals from Catalonia.

The Red Fury lost way before they could have a shot at the World Cup. Last night though, Lopetegui surely raised some eyebrows in Madrid as well as the rest of Spain. Nothing compares to having this Sevilla side get their hands on a European trophy.

Sevilla‘s Europa League winning campaign is as much about Lopetegui as it is about the underrated squad.

Julen Lopetegui: Sevilla Success Speaks Volumes About Real Madrid Struggles

Real Madrid’s Long-Term Plan With Julen Lopetegui

The 53-year-old is well known for being an old school manager for quite some time now. He is a Jurgen Klopp-type rather than someone of Pep Guardiola’s ilk. Give a lower-mid quality squad to Lopetegui and he will squeeze out every last ounce of talent they possess.

Lucas Ocampos, Sergio Reguilon, Ever Banega and Suso are the perfect examples of the Sevilla manager’s project at the La Liga club.

The current Real Madrid squad, though, is a combination of world-class players a tad beyond their peak and youngsters who lack the experience of the level of football played at the Santiago Bernabeu. Maybe this is the perfect reason why Lopetegui and Madrid were a match made in heaven.

The older generation of legends in the squad were needed for tactical reasons and experience till their last breath. On the contrary, the younger crop could learn lifetime lessons from the extremely technical coach.

Sadly, the project and the process only lasted four months.

A Course of Man-Management

Lopetegui’s Sevilla are unbeaten since February now and, after their Europa League triumph last night, one thing is crystal clear: managing Real Madrid is more about man-managing the team than anything else.

This only justifies why Madrid had a comparatively disappointing campaign for a major part of this season. This is despite possessing a squad with a value which is quadruple that of Sevilla’s. On the other hand, the latter improved by leaps and bounds and won a European title last night.

It surely takes a Zinedine Zidane to handle the legendary Madrid side, after all.

To level the ground of judgement, it is also important that we talk about the difference in playing style and the club philosophy too. Madrid have been a club with a build-up play focused from the middle of the park since Cristiano Ronaldo left for greener pastures in Italy, while Lopetegui focuses on using the flanks more.

Will Lopetegui Prove to be Florentino Perez’s Biggest Mistake?

Probably not. Lopetegui is a Marcelo Bielsa in the world of Jose Mourinho’s and Carlo Ancelotti’s. The Spaniard was never meant for the gargantuan clubs. Rather, he could make his name by ending his career as an elite manager of smaller sides.

One thing is for sure: if this Sevilla side could finish fourth on the same points tally as Atletico Madrid, it’s a matter of time before they break into the top three. However, a lot of it depends on whether Julen Lopetegui is given the time and resources that he needs.

Nevertheless, the manager’s tears last night with the Europa League medal in his hand spoke volumes about what the success meant after such debacles in the past two years.

 

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