Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – Skipper Sergio Ramos urged Spain to put the drama of the past 48 hours behind them as they look to focus on their World Cup opener against Portugal in Sochi on Friday.
Coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked on Wednesday after Real Madrid confirmed he would take over at the Bernabeu for next season, catching the Spanish Football Federation by surprise.
“We need to move on as soon as possible,” Ramos told reporters on the eve of the game. “These have not been pleasant times at all.”
“Julen has been part of this World Cup,” he added. “Spain needs to come before any individual, as soon as possible. Let’s move on from this and focus on the World Cup. That is better for everyone.”
Ramos also said there were no divisions in the Spanish squad following the decision to let go of Lopetegui, under whom the 2010 World Cup winners had been unbeaten in two years.
“There are no cracks. We are all individuals and we all think differently, but the collective idea is the same — we are here to go for the World Cup,” said Ramos, who will play under Lopetegui at club level next season.
“For me, personally, it was a more delicate moment but I can assure you that these problems provide an opportunity to grow.”
Fernando Hierro has hastily been brought in to coach a side that had been considered by many as the favourites in Russia.
Ramos and Hierro showed a united front as they posed for the cameras and the latter, a former Spain defender, has admitted he will not be making any major changes to the system put in place by his predecessor.
“The reality is that we will change little, we don’t have time,” he said. “We have clear ideas and we are not going to change our concept of how to play football one jot.”
Spain also face Iran and Morocco in Group B.