(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 11, 2018 Spain’s coach Julen Lopetegui gives a thumb-up during a training session in Krasnodar Academy ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui will replace Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid coach after the 2018 World Cup, the Spanish giants said on June 12, 2018 in a statement. / AFP PHOTO / Pierre-Philippe MARCOU
Portugal winger Bernardo Silva says Spain coach Julen Lopetegui’s appointment as the new Real Madrid boss will have no impact on Friday’s World Cup group clash between the two countries.
Real announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would replace Zinedine Zidane after the tournament in Russia, despite having only recently extended his Spain contract until 2020.
“It has nothing to do with us. The players in the Spanish team are highly experienced, top-class players,” Silva told reporters at Portugal’s training base on Wednesday.
“Most of them have already played in a World Cup or European Championship so these are players who are prepared for any given situation.
“They have already faced them before so I don’t think it will faze the Spanish team.”
Silva won the Premier League title with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season, his first year in England after joining from Monaco in a deal worth around 50 million euros ($59 million).
The 23-year-old made his international debut in March 2015 but missed Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph through injury.
“We shouldn’t live in the past,” he said. “It’s going to be a big tournament for me and a big honour to represent my team. I will do my best to give everything I have for the Portugal team.”
He added: “Everyone who’s into football dreams of representing their team at the World Cup, the most important football tournament. It’s a dream for all of us. I’m very proud that I’m here today.”
Portugal travel to 2014 Winter Olympics host city Sochi to kick off their Group B campaign against 2010 champions Spain, with matches to follow against Morocco and Iran.
The European champions crashed out in the group phase four years ago in Brazil, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe among just seven survivors from the 2014 squad.
It will be a fourth and likely final World Cup for Ronaldo, who has scored just three times at previous tournaments, and Silva is keen to glean as much advice as possible from the Real Madrid star.
“Ronaldo is our captain, he sets an example for us and is advising us younger players and sharing his experience,” Silva said.
“He is highly important for us and we’re listening a lot to the more experienced players.
“Cristiano is now solely focused on the national team and the fact he is in the Portuguese squad means he will give 100 percent to the cause.”