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Xavi criticises Madrid, Lopetegui announcement timing

Xavi criticises Madrid, Lopetegui announcement timing

"It was an absurd reaction of misunderstanding and pride, which was aimed at hurting the prestige of Real Madrid", said Perez.

As for Portugal, the team is healthy and led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who just won his third straight Champions League title with Real Madrid.

Spain's tough call to fire Lopetegui so near the tournament has divided opinion, but his new employers, and more specifically Perez, remain staunch in the belief La Furia Roja have made the wrong choice.

Madrid on Tuesday shocked everyone by announcing Lopetegui as Zinedine Zidane's replacement on the Bernabeu bench once this summer's tournament was over.

The mess in the national team: "It's not up to us to put a measure on it". But today is the happiest day of my life.

"But I also understand the position of the federation".

Xavi, a 133-time Spain worldwide, was unhappy with the timing of the announcement of Lopetegui's Madrid move. "We have acted professionally and honestly".

"You can't turn back time but we're convinced that what we've done is honest and clear".

"We have a very clear goal in mind, we've worked for two solid weeks before the competition".

Spain's World Cup preparations are in chaos. "I hope that we can have a team with the same dreams, this can't distract us".

And as he left Moscow, he added: "We have a magnificent team and hopefully win the World Cup". "It's not the best situation but at the same time, it unites them more and they give more of themselves, you never know".

"We can not alter two years of hard work in the coming days - from now until the Portugal match, we don't have the ability to change much".

He described the day he was sacked as "the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother", and the 51-year-old former goalkeeper will surely find it hard to watch Friday's match.

Hierro and Ramos posed together, smiling for the cameras, at a press conference inside the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the venue for the Group B clash between the Iberian neighbours.

And, while there will be much anger at the behaviour of Madrid and also Lopetegui, the decision to remove the coach after a two-year process despite the fact he was supported by the players surely leaves Spain much worse off than they would have been had he stayed. "We know how important he is, he is a constant danger", admitted Ramos of his Real Madrid colleague.