OFFICIAL: Fernando Hierro announced as new Spain head coach
Just hours after Lopetegui was fired amongst the fallout from his appointment as Real Madrid manager, a successor has been decided.
The man who will take the reins is Fernando Hierro, who was previously sporting director of the Spanish side. Hierro is an obvious replacement for Lopetegui, due to his prior involvement in the Spain set-up.
"Fernando Hierro will take over the role of national head coach in the World Cup, and will appear before the press alongside the RFEF President Luis Rubiales," read the official announcement from the Spanish national side. "He will take his first training session hereafter, and on Friday he will take charge when Spain play against Portugal."
Rubiales will hold another press conference at 18:30 (CET), where he will explain the reasons behind the appointment.
The information published points to this being a temporary appointment for the tournament in Russia, and it is expected that the Spanish FA will appoint a permanent replacement after the end of the World Cup.
With two days before the beginning of the competition, the list of possible replacements was obviously limited. There are many coaches who would jump at the chance to lead 'La Roja', but the adjustment period required means that Hierro is an understandable choice.
Hierro has been the sporting director for Spain since November, having already spent four years in the role back in 2007. This means he knows the players and the system well, making him the ideal successor.
Although the former Real Madrid player has been involved in a back-room role at Spain of late, he has previously coached at Real Oviedo, as well as working under Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. His experience as a Spanish national player, as well as his involvement with the set-up, will be key in guiding Spain through this storm.
The former defender racked up 89 caps for Spain during his career, over a period of 13 years. During this spell, he bagged 31 goals and took part in four World Cups and two European championships.
He was appointed sporting director of Spain back in 2007, retaining the role until 2011. This coincided with the most succesful period in the country's history, as they won the South Africa World Cup, followed by a European championship.
On Friday, the new boss will have the tricky task of facing Portugal in his first match. Spain's opening game is a big deal given Portugal's proximity, and Cristiano Ronaldo's side are their main rivals in Group B.
With just two days to get ready for the clash, Hierro will have to focus on the mental preparations for the game more than specific technical training. Julen Lopetegui's removal from the role came as a surprise to everyone, and there are reports that members of the dressing room appealed to Luis Rubiales not to fire him, so Hierro will have to attempt to bring the team back together in this crucial time.