From crisis to group winners
Spain coach Fernando Hierro stepped in under emergency circumstances just two days before Spain’s first game at the World Cup to replace Lopetegui. And on Monday, Hierro was put to the test, but he has admitted that it was luck which got his side to finish on top of Group B, and that it was all down to the final call made using VAR. Iago Aspas’ backheel injury was initially ruled out for offside before VAR correctly reversed the decision and gave Spain an equaliser propelling them to the top of their group and into the final 16.
“I like the group, it was a level playing field, we weren’t sure who was going to be first or second until the last minute and I have to admit we were lucky to finish first,” he said.
His admission also came with the recognition that Spain need to improve defensively in the knockout rounds, as he added;
“We have to be very demanding with ourselves. This is not the way. We can’t allow the opposition so many chances. If we want to get to where we dream, we have to adjust these details and be self-critical, knowing there is room for improvement.”
VAR has been a big talking point in the World Cup so far, but Hierro was satisfied with how the technology has been implemented so far.
“All coaches and all players have been instructed about what VAR means and how it works,” he said.
“It has to be included and they’re going to try and use it as fairly as possible. We understood the referee was waiting for VAR and we did our job, the players didn’t pressure him.”
However, one of Hierro’s players, Thiago Alcantara was not convinced by the use of VAR.“There are people who are in favour [of VAR], but for me it loses a little essence of football,” he said.
“But it is true that today it has favoured us.”