Fernando Hierro has been left to lead Spain into the World Cup after Julen​ Lopetegui was sacked two days ahead of their first game in Sochi - but admits time has run out to make any changes.

Spain plunged into crisis after Tuesday's shock axing of Lopetegui following the announcement that he would become Real Madrid's head coach after the finals in Russia.

The decision left Spain Football Federation president Luis Rubiales furious, who found out five minutes before the news broke. He immediately terminated Lopetegui's contact, replacing him with the director of football, Fernando Hierro. 

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The crazy 24-hour reshuffle comes as Spain prepares to open their campaign with a group B clash against Portugal on Friday.

Former Spain captain Hierro has had to step across from his role, but has accepted the card he has been dealt. 

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Krasnador, he said: “It is a nice challenge and an exciting one.

“The circumstances are what they are and from now on I accept the responsibility bravely, it can’t be any other way.”

“We have a group of players who have been together for two years to work towards the World Cup and I have been sporting director, so I understand the motivation is huge.

“We cannot 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.

“The key is to change as little as possible. We cannot change anything in two days."

Lopetegui was sacked on Wednesday morning (Getty)

A press conference was delayed by over an hour before Rubiales announced he had replaced 53-year-old Lopetegui, although he blamed Real Madrid rather than the outgoing coach. 

He said: "We have been forced to dispense with the national coach. We wish him the best of luck,

"I don't want to get into how Real Madrid should go about things. The Spain team is the team of all Spain.

"If it had been up to Julen it wouldn't have happened this way and I wouldn't have found out five minutes beforehand."

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