World Cup 2018: Spain’s Pique summons spirit of Michigan 1989 NCAA win

La Roja may be in disarray heading into Russia 2018 but the defender is taking inspiration from a basketball triumph almost 30 years ago

Gerard Pique is remaining defiant in the wake of Spain’s chaotic World Cup build-up, drawing on Michigan’s 1989 NCAA Basketball Championship-winning team as proof La Roja can prosper in Russia.

The 2010 champions were rocked on Tuesday when it was announced head coach Julen Lopetegui would join Real Madrid after the finals.

Unwilling to let Lopetegui stay on for the tournament, the Royal Spanish Football Federation sacked the 51-year-old on Wednesday and placed former captain Fernando Hierro in temporary charge.

And Pique, a world and European champion with Spain, is taking inspiration from Michigan’s title 29 years ago, when the Wolverines sacked Bill Frieder – who had announced he would take up another coaching position after the tournament – before his replacement Steve Fisher guided the team to glory.

“University of Michigan. Basketball. 1989. NCAA Champion. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened,” Pique posted on Twitter.

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“All together, now more than ever.”

Spain get their campaign started with a tough Group B test against Portugal on Friday, before clashes with Iran and Morocco.

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