BREAKING NEWS: Luis Enrique leaves position as Spain head coach

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Luis Enrique has left his position as head coach of Spain following his side’s surprise World Cup last-16 defeat to Morocco, the Royal Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

Spain went out on penalties after Tuesday’s game at the Education City Stadium ended goalless after extra time.

Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s contract was set to expire at the end of the Qatar tournament and it was confirmed on Thursday that he would not be staying.

“The RFEF would like to thank Luis Enrique and his entire coaching team at the helm of the absolute national team in recent years,” the statement read.

“The sports management of the RFEF submitted a report to the president stating that a new project for the Spanish football team should begin.

“The aim is to continue the growth achieved in recent years thanks to the work of Luis Enrique and their associates.

“Both president Luis Rubiales and sporting director José Francisco Molina passed the decision on to the coach.

“The RFEF strongly wishes Luis Enrique and his team the best of luck in their future professional endeavours.

“The coach earns the love and admiration of his colleagues in the national team and the entire federation, which will always be his home.”

Luis Enrique has been in charge of Spain since 2018, apart from a four-month period in 2019 when he stepped down due to illness and the subsequent death of his young daughter.

Last year he led La Roja to the semi-finals of Euro 2020, where they lost on penalties to Italy, and to the final of the 2020-21 Nations League, where they were beaten by France.

Spain’s loss to Morocco was their third consecutive exit from the tournament on penalties, having also suffered defeat in this fashion against hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup in the last 16.

Luis Enrique’s side opened their Qatar 2022 campaign in style with a thrilling 7-0 win over Costa Rica, followed up with a respectable 1-1 draw against Germany.

However, they finished second in Group E after losing 2-1 to Japan, unable to overcome the Moroccan side 15 places below them in the latest FIFA rankings.

The Spaniards failed to score a single penalty in Tuesday’s shootout, making them only the second team in World Cup history after Switzerland against Ukraine in 2006.

Asked about his future after that game, in which Spain had just one shot on target despite making 1,019 passes, Luis Enrique said: “I can’t tell you.

“Your colleagues have already asked me and I don’t know because I don’t know this decision.

“Now is not the time to talk about my future. My contract will end, but I am happy with the national team, with the federation, with the president.”

“I could always go on, but I have to think and be calm about what is best for me and my national team.”

Spain’s next game is against Norway on March 25 in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier.

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