I’m going to Moscow with The King of Karaoke

Head Coach Julen Lopetegui of Spain directs his players his players during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Head Coach Julen Lopetegui of Spain directs his players his players during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

By the time the dust settles in Kiev I’ll be just a few days away from my Aeroflot flight to Moscow.

Spain’s assault on the World Cup will start quite some time after I arrive there, all trained up to be their tournament TV producer, and the whole project took shape this week when Julen Lopetegui named his squad.

Just as an aside, my weeks in Russia took a decided upturn the night Sevilla lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich last month. Friends and I were at the bar of our hotel after the match when Lopetegui, an ex-commentator for the TV station where we used to work, strolled by having taken in the match.

One of our company, the esteemed Sid Lowe, warned the Spain coach that I was going to be attached to La Roja during the tournament and firmly warned him: “Don’t go on a night out with Graham…!”

The chat naturally turned to my penchant for karaoke in the early hours of the morning, anywhere in the world, but Lopetegui pronounced himself to be “The King of Karaoke”.

A challenge naturally ensued. So win lose or draw, my chronicling of Spain’s attempt to win back their world crown won’t be satisfying until Lopetegui and I have our promised ‘sing-off’. He really doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for, the poor thing.

Meantime, he’s named a squad without Alvaro Morata. I’m disappointed.

The Chelsea striker was a tournament-winner in waiting. Yes, his season has been blighted by a back injury but he, I thought, held the talents and athleticism to change Spain’s front line.

This means the story turns towards Iago Aspas. Rodrigo, perhaps Diego Costa, may start as Spain’s striker but it’s the mercurial little forward from Vigo who, I think, might hold the key. Whether he, too, can sing is something I’ll try to find out for you.

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