World Cup Coaches cut their teeth in Laliga
Six of the national team managers at the 2018 World Cup in Russia have previously coached in LaLiga. Egypt’s Hector Cuper, Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, Argentina’s Jorge Sampaoli, Saudi Arabia’s Juan Antonio Pizzi and Uruguay’s Oscar Washington Tabarez in addition to Spain’s new coach Fernando Hierro all feature successful spells coaching in LaLiga on their CVs. And, as a bonus, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Real Betis, Real Oviedo and Real Mallorca fans will all have a second country [at least] to support during the summer’s games!
Hector Cuper [Egypt – Real Mallorca, Valencia and Real Betis]
Egypt national manager Hector Cuper is one of world football’s most experienced coaches and his very first job in European football came at Real Mallorca. He guided the islanders to fifth place and the Copa del Rey final during his debut season in 1997/98, then third spot in LaLiga and the European Cup Winners’ Cup final the following year. The Argentine went on to reach the 2000 and 2001 Champions League finals with Valencia, before later returning to save Mallorca from relegation in 2004/05. Adding in a short spell as Betis boss during the 2007/08 campaign, his total of 200 games means Cuper sits ninth on the all-time list of international coaches to have overseen the most LaLiga matches.
Carlos Queiroz [Iran – Real Madrid]
Queiroz ranks among football’s most-travelled managers. His biggest job in almost three decades in the profession was taking charge of Real Madrid for the 2003/04 season. Arriving from Manchester United at the same time as galactico signing David Beckham, Queiroz immediately guided the team to Spanish Supercopa and to the top of the LaLiga standings for much of the campaign before leaving that summer. The Portuguese manager is one of very few coaches to have qualified three national teams to a World Cup; South Africa in 2002, Portugal in 2010 [with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo], and Iran in both 2014 and 2018.
Jorge Sampaoli [Argentina – Sevilla]
Argentina national coach Sampaoli took the position only 12 months ago, having been persuaded by his home country to leave Sevilla after just one tremendously entertaining season in charge. His first ever LaLiga game was a 6-4 win over Espanyol, and his attack-minded team challenged at the top of the table through the autumn and winter before finishing fourth in the 2016/17 final standings. In Russia this summer he will have two Sevilla players with him in midfielder Ever Banega and defender Gabriel Mercado, as well of course as national captain Lionel Messi of Barcelona. Sampaoli has previous international tournament success, having guided Chile to the 2015 Copa America trophy.
Juan Antonio Pizzi [Saudi Arabia – Valencia]
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is another who had a short but more than useful training in LaLiga in recent years. A former Tenerife, Valencia, Barcelona and Villarreal striker who played for Spain at World Cup 1998, Pizzi was named Valencia coach in December 2013. He immediately impressed by beating Levante in the city derby, then oversaw a 3-2 LaLiga win away at Barcelona while at the same time guiding Los Che the semi-finals of the Europa League. As an international coach, Pizzi led Chile as they successfully defended the Copa America trophy at 2016's 'Centenario' tournament in the USA.
Oscar Washington Tabarez [Uruguay – Real Oviedo]
Uruguay national treasure Oscar Washington Tabarez is leading his country at a fourth World Cup finals this summer. Less well known perhaps is that Tabarez coached Real Oviedo during the 1997/98 season, helping the Asturians avoid relegation in a season which brought a couple of memorable derby wins against Sporting Gijon. El Maestro (‘The Teacher’) has returned to his old stomping ground for talent, picking five LaLiga players in his squad: Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Cristhian Stuani (Girona) and Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo).
Fernando Hierro [Spain – Real Oviedo]
Appointed national team coach on the eve of the finals, Real Madrid and Spain legend Fernando Hierro is leading his country for the very first time this World Cup. A formidable goalscoring defender in his day, Hierro began his managerial career in the Real Madrid youth setup – the club where he spent 14 seasons as a player – before taking charge at LaLiga 1l2l3 side Real Oviedo in 2016 and narrowly missing out on the promotion playoffs on the very last day of the season.