Robert Moreno says Luis Enrique is the person who should be asked about the nature of his return to the Spain job.

Former Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has been reappointed as national team boss after taking a leave of absence while his daughter Xana, who passed away in August, battled bone cancer.

Moreno took charge of nine matches, helping Spain qualify for Euro 2020 before it was confirmed that Luis Enrique would be returning.

News of the change came as something of a surprise and, despite Moreno previously insisting he would not stand in the way of Luis Enrique returning, he reportedly left the Wanda Metropolitano in tears after learning he was no longer head coach shortly after Spain's 5-0 defeat of Romania.

There are reports Luis Enrique then said he did not wish Moreno to stay on as his assistant, despite the pair having worked together at Celta Vigo, Roma and Barca before taking up office with Spain.

However, when asked about those rumours, Moreno told reporters on Thursday: "I don't know, ask him!

"I think the best thing for both parties is that it stays between us. If the other side speaks, let him speak.

"I have nothing to say because I don't think it would be good for anyone. Firstly, the one it would not be good for is me, and it allows me at this moment to think about myself."

Moreno had earlier released a statement in which he said he had "a clear conscience" but wanted to avoid "a spiral of reproaches and justifications for each of the parties".

Despite criticism over the affair, Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales defended his conduct on Wednesday.

"It was clear that in the moment that Luis Enrique felt strong to return, the door was always open for him," Rubiales told a media conference. "I have always said that and have always been honest, nobody can feel tricked.

"We want to thank Robert Moreno for his work, he did very well, and we are very happy with what he did. But Robert Moreno told us he'd spoken with Luis Enrique, who had told him he wanted to return. We found out through Moreno that Luis Enrique wanted to return.

"We knew Luis Enrique wanted to return but [sporting director Jose Francisco] Molina and I decided not to say anything until after the qualification phase was done.

"On Sunday, Molina spoke with Robert Moreno, and Robert Moreno said he wanted to know now what is going to happen. Molina told him to wait, but if Luis Enrique wants to return to his job we will consider it.

"On Monday, we received a message from Robert Moreno, who said he would not stand in the way of Luis Enrique returning.

"The first person who knew that Luis Enrique wanted to return, even before us at the federation, was Robert Moreno.

"We have always acted with respect and transparency. And we have kept our word. The federation has acted coherently with everyone. We are loyal to Luis Enrique and the person who occupied his job."

Gareth Bale's popularity in Spain appears to have sunk to an all-time low as he heads back to Real Madrid following international duty.

Not sighted in LaLiga for well over a month, the winger made his second Wales start in four days as Ryan Giggs' men secured Euro 2020 qualification with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday.

Bale's timely return to fitness prompted suspicion, and his actions after the game have attracted more scorn in certain sections of the Spanish media, who have routinely criticised him for spending too much time on the golf course.

In Cardiff, he was pictured celebrating with Wales team-mates behind a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

Madrid newspaper Marca, said to have close links to the powerful club that employs Bale, did not take kindly to what has been perceived as a mocking gesture.

The front page of its Thursday edition featured Bale and the headline: "DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER".

AS, also headquartered in the Spanish capital, depicted the four-time Champions League winner sinking a close-range putt alongside the headline: "BALE IS IN A HOLE".

Meanwhile, online newspaper El Espanol captured the order of priorities supporters expect – "MADRID. MADRID. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER" – while columnist Tomas Roncero summed up what appears to lay ahead.

His comment piece in AS included a simple, ominous quote for Bale's future: "Out, out, out."

The media message crossed borders ahead of Madrid's meeting with Real Sociedad on Sunday.

In an interview with The Athletic, ex-Madrid president Ramon Calderon called Bale "childish" and claimed fans were "very angry" with the one-time €100million signing.

Gareth Bale's well-publicised celebration of Wales' Euro 2020 qualification will inflame his relationship with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, according to Los Blancos' former president Ramon Calderon.

In the aftermath of his country's 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday, Bale was pictured behind a banner that read: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

The slogan stems from a chant sung by Wales fans that pokes fun at the Spanish media's portrayal of Bale, who has been accused of placing Madrid low down his list of priorities and spending too much time playing golf.

The 30-year-old almost left for China during the close season and recently admitted he gets more enjoyment from playing for the national team than Madrid.

Calderon, Madrid's president from July 2006 to January 2009, believes the events of Tuesday could cost Bale a place in Zidane's matchday squad, with Los Blancos set to host high-flying Real Sociedad in LaLiga on Saturday.

"It's going to be difficult for Bale now because it was very childish of him to pose behind that banner," Calderon told The Athletic.

"Fans are very angry because of course they didn't like that, bearing in mind he has hardly played for the team this season then he goes off on international duty with Wales and plays in two matches.

"It's a difficult situation for Zidane and he won't be happy with Bale for posing with that banner.

"Bale hasn't done himself any favours with this. He's adding fuel to the fire and it's going to be difficult for Zidane to include him in the starting line-up and also the bench."

Bale was reportedly on the cusp of joining Jiangsu Suning in July, only for the deal to fall through at the last minute.

Calderon advised the four-time Champions League winner to pursue a return to Tottenham, where Jose Mourinho is now charge.

"He was linked with going to China but that is only for players who are at the end of their careers or who go for money," he said.

"Bale has at least three or four more years at the top level. Could he join Jose Mourinho at Tottenham? Why not? It depends on what Mourinho thinks of him but I'm sure the fans at Tottenham have very good memories of him there.

"For Bale to go back to where he really belongs would be ideal for everyone, because going to China would be a pity."

Gerard Pique has welcomed Spain's reappointment of Luis Enrique but admitted to being surprised at Roberto Moreno's abrupt departure.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed the unexpected coaching change on Tuesday, bringing an end to Moreno's brief stint in charge of the 2010 World Cup winners.

Moreno took over in a caretaker capacity in March and assumed the head coach role on a full-time basis in June.

Luis Enrique had stepped down as his young daughter, Xana, had developed bone cancer. She died in August.

His former assistant, Moreno, won seven and drew two of the nine matches he oversaw in total, leading to a sense of shock when it became evident that Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Romania was to be his last game.

"In truth it is a little surprising, we all got a little surprise," Barca defender Pique told Mundo Deportivo.

"I'm not there, I haven't talked to my [Barcelona] team-mates because they played on Monday and they didn't train [Tuesday]."

"I am very happy that Luis Enrique returns to training, that is the best news of all," he continued.

"Regarding the relationship between Luis Enrique and Robert Moreno, I have no idea what happened."

Pique has been out of the Spain side since retiring from international football following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He remains a regular starter at club level and expects to stay at Camp Nou until the end of his distinguished career, which could yet end before his contract expires in 2022.

"I have always said my last team will be Barca," said the 32-year-old.

"I have absolutely no intention of wearing any other shirt because... I have been a 'Cule' all my life. For me, being at Barca is the biggest dream of all.

"My intention is to get to 2022, but I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it.

"If I see that I lose importance or see that I am not at the [required] level, I have no problem leaving earlier.

"I don't think it will happen because I know myself and I am able to endure until 2022, but you never know."

Robert Moreno insists he has "a clear conscience" after his stint as Spain head coach ended with Luis Enrique's return to the role, although he acknowledged "a bittersweet feeling".

Then assistant Moreno stepped into the breach earlier this year when Luis Enrique resigned as his young daughter Xana battled bone cancer. She died in August.

Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique returned this week, however, replacing Moreno, who had worked alongside him in a number of previous positions.

Moreno has not reverted to his role as assistant amid reports the two have fallen out, although he said in a statement on Wednesday he would not assess his final days as Spain boss, avoiding "a spiral of reproaches and justifications for each of the parties".

But the 42-year-old did thank Luis Enrique, his staff, the RFEF and the media, while also apologising for not addressing reporters after his final match in charge on Monday.

He added in the statement: "I have a clear conscience. It is impossible to please everyone, but I sincerely tell you that I respect all and all opinions.

"I have always maintained that I am a man of my word and would not be an obstacle in the event that Luis Enrique decided to return.

"I have done so even though it has meant my departure. I wish him well because his joys will be ours."

Referring to the "extreme situation" in Luis Enrique's personal life that led to him taking charge, Moreno said he wished he had never been required to become coach.

He concluded: "My experience as an absolute coach began and ended in the same way, with a bittersweet feeling.

"I have to look forward and face new challenges as a coach in my passion, football. I am prepared to face the challenge of leading new projects."

Thomas Delaney has suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle and will be out of action until January.

Borussia Dortmund confirmed the nature of the 28-year-old's injury on Wednesday after he returned from international duty.

Midfielder Delaney was substituted 13 minutes into Denmark's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Republic of Ireland on Monday, unable to assist his country as they secured a 1-1 draw to qualify for the finals.

Delaney has played six times in the Bundesliga this season, having appeared 30 times last term following his move from Werder Bremen.

Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne labelled Euro 2020 a "fake competition" and claimed the draw format is a sign of football becoming more of a business than a sport.

Roberto Martinez's side won all 10 qualifiers to finish top of Group I and qualify automatically for next year's finals, which will be staged in 12 different cities across Europe.

The group draw will take place on November 30 but, due to seedings and rules involving host nations, Belgium already know they will be drawn into Group B with Russia and Denmark.

Belgium can start planning for the expansive tournament, but Manchester City star De Bruyne is unhappy with the format.

"It's a shame," he told VTM Nieuws after scoring twice in Tuesday's 6-1 win over Cyprus.

"For me, this feels like a fake competition. Football has become more and more [like] a business."

De Bruyne featured in six of Belgium's qualifiers, scoring four times and assisting a further six goals.

Stefan Savic has suffered a setback as he bids to return from a hamstring injury.

The Atletico Madrid centre-back has been out of action since Montenegro's 0-0 draw against Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying on October 11.

Atleti announced Savic, who was substituted after 39 minutes of that match, had suffered a hamstring issue but did not offer an estimated recovery time.

And the club announced on Wednesday the defender "suffered a relapse of the grade II injury".

Savic has undergone tests and, according to Atleti's short statement, "is pending response to treatment".

Roberto Martinez believes Belgium deserve to win Euro 2020 but acknowledges that will count for little if they do not perform at the finals.

Belgium completed their qualification campaign on Tuesday, thrashing Cyprus 6-1 to end with 10 wins from 10 in Group I, scoring 40 goals in the process.

Martinez has already seen enough to suggest Belgium are worthy of a maiden major international title, yet he knows there is plenty of work to do.

"Whether we can win the European Championship, that is something that we have in our hands," head coach Martinez said. "We need to get even better and then we see if we can play another great tournament.

"We have set the standard at the World Cup [finishing third] and we are continuing to develop into a team with a great deal of togetherness. And the fans are also important.

"We now have seven months to become as good as possible. This team deserves to win the European Championship but, in football, it's not that simple."

Reflecting on qualifying, he added: "I think everyone just worked really well this year. The players know what to do and they do it with an incredible focus.

"Scoring six times and then playing again in this way is very good."

Kevin De Bruyne, who scored twice in a playmaking masterclass against Cyprus, added: "It's always beautiful. Nobody has given it to us.

"Once you start the qualification, you have to go match by match and we did. It's very nice to finally get there [with 10 wins]."

Michael O'Neill insisted Northern Ireland's 6-1 thrashing by Germany on Tuesday will have "no bearing" on their Euro 2020 play-off.

Northern Ireland conceded six times in a qualifying match for the first time since 1949 (when they were defeated 9-2 by England) in what was a sobering loss to Joachim Low's team.

Serge Gnabry starred with a hat-trick for Germany, whose place at next year's showpiece tournament was already secured, with Leon Goretzka netting twice before Julian Brandt's injury-time goal.

O'Neill's side, who finished third in Group C, now find themselves in a one-legged play-off semi-final away to Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winner to face either the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia.

"This game will have no bearing on the play-offs whatsoever," said O'Neill.

"Ultimately we were punished by the quality of the opposition. We are asking League One players to come and play against Champions League players."

It was the biggest competitive loss of his eight-year tenure for O'Neill, who will be in charge for the play-offs despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City.

"You never want to get beaten 6-1 and it was tough in the second half particularly," he added.

O'Neill's team were defeated on both occasions by Bosnia-Herzegovina when the sides met in the Nations League last year, however the boss remains optimistic they can reach a second successive Euros.

"When the Bosnia game comes around in March we have to aim to have our key players fit," he said.

"We know what to expect in terms of the intimidation and it's a tight ground, but we will go into that game knowing that we can win."

O'Neill described Gnabry as "un-defendable" and the Bayern Munich player, who now has 14 goals for club and country this season, admitted he is revelling in his role as a striker having previously played as a winger.

"I have to try to give my best every game," said Gnabry, whose 13 goals in as many Germany games has only been bettered by the legendary Gerd Muller. 

"I am playing as a striker here, which I have enjoyed a lot. Scoring goals came easy to me as a youth player and it continues to work out here for me as well."

Low was pleased to see his team, who finished ahead of Netherlands as group winners and will now play their Euro 2020 group games in Munich, continue to press for more goals.

He said: "We enjoyed it very much. We have played a very consequential game. Even when we were up by two or three goals, we continued attacking. We can be very pleased.

"We did not get nervous after going behind, I have liked what I have seen very much. We were focused for the full 90 minutes and this makes me positive looking forward."

Ronald Koeman said Georginio Wijnaldum feels "so happy with this Dutch team" after his Netherlands side beat Estonia 5-0 without any signs of the racism that blighted a league game in the country two days earlier.

Excelsior winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira was subjected to alleged racist chanting during last week's 3-3 draw against Den Bosch in Eerste Divisie, prompting Wijnaldum to speak out about the problem of racism in football ahead of the final Netherlands Euro 2020 qualifying match at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Wijnaldum went on to be the game's star player, netting the opening goal and going on to score two more, while Nathan Ake and Myron Boadu also got on the score sheet in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Netherlands head coach Koeman revealed Wijnaldum was in high spirits after the match, and not just because of his goals.

"Gini just said something about it in the dressing room during our closing words with each other," Koeman told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"He said he feels so happy with this Dutch team, where this problem does not occur.

"It is one team. It's nice to see that again."

Koeman made seven changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Northern Ireland three days earlier but still saw his players deliver a cohesive, confident performance.

While the likes of Ake, Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt were outstanding against Estonia, Koeman said he will utilise friendly matches in March to finalise his squad selections for Euro 2020.

"It would be very strange if everything was clear against Estonia in one evening," said Koeman. "We still have six months.

"We have a lot of young players who will be half a year later. It will be a fight. strong possible selection.

"You use March for points of discussion within the selection. I will therefore let many players play.

"We then play two international matches and have consciously opted for Thursday and Sunday. We will not play with the same team twice."

A delighted Ryan Giggs hailed one of the best days of his life after Wales secured a place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Hungary.

Aaron Ramsey was the hero in Cardiff, scoring a goal in each half as Wales clinched the second qualifying spot behind Croatia in Group E – earning a shot at matching their Euro 2016 exploits following a semi-final run.

An uneven start to his first campaign in charge meant Giggs' men needed to win both of their closing matches to progress.

Victory in Azerbaijan over the weekend before success before their fervent home support saw them come good when it mattered.

"It's doesn't get any better," Wales manager Giggs told Sky Sports. "It's amazing. From where we were in the summer with those two defeats [away to Croatia and Hungary], credit to the lads the way they've come back.

"They've show grit, determination and quality. It's one of the best days of my life."

Ramsey's injury problems meant the Juventus star was making his first start of qualification on Tuesday.

"He's just showed that quality, that class," Giggs said. "The finishes… we missed him, but better late than never, I suppose."

Having never managed to represent Wales at a major tournament as a player, Manchester United great Giggs will revel in leading his country on such a grand stage.

"To be honest I haven't really thought about that," he added, referencing those playing disappointments.

"It's one of the greatest days of my life. There was a lot of hard work put in. Not only am I blessed with a good set of players but also the best staff I could ask for.

"The atmosphere every time we play in Cardiff… the fans are part of it. I was watching it in 2016 – you could tell the fans loved it then and they'll love this even more."

Gareth Bale risked incurring the wrath of Real Madrid with his celebration of Wales' Euro 2020 qualification.

Wales – semi-finalists at Euro 2016 – booked their ticket to next year's European Championship with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday.

Aaron Ramsey's double in Cardiff ensured Wales leapfrogged Hungary and clinched the second automatic qualifying spot in Group E.

Bale and his team-mates celebratedly wildly post-game, with the former Tottenham talisman particularly catching the eye.

Tipped to leave Madrid and criticised for his priorities amid his love for golf, Wales fans have adopted the chant, "Wales, golf, Madrid", which has been heard during the international break.

And on Tuesday, Bale was seen celebrating in front of a Wales flag with the words: "WALES. GOLF. MADRID... IN THAT ORDER".

Gareth Bale ribbed Aaron Ramsey over his fitness record after the Juventus man fired Wales to the Euro 2020 finals with a brace in the 2-0 win over Hungary.

Needing victory to progress as automatic qualifiers from Group E at Hungary's expense, Ramsey marked his first start of an injury-ruined campaign with a headed opener from Bale's 15th-minute cross.

The former Arsenal favourite was on the mark again early in the second half as Wales made it back-to-back European Championship qualifications.

"It’s about time he contributed, isn't it?" Bale told Sky Sports.

"Obviously he's a world-class player, you like to have him back. He showed again what a great player he is, scoring the goals that helped us through."

Wales were the surprise package of Euro 2016, with Ramsey and Bale to the fore as they reached the semi-finals.

Now both senior members in an increasingly youthful squad under Ryan Giggs, Ramsey was desperate to secure another outing on the biggest stage.

"We had the best time of our lives in France," he told Sky Sports. "We missed out on the [2018] World Cup, so it was a big effort.

"I missed a lot of this campaign but it's all worthwhile. Chipping in with a couple of goals is amazing.

"It means everything. We inspired a nation last time out. We wanted to do it again.

"There are some players here who haven’t experienced this. We wanted to give them a taste of it as well. We've got a great squad, a lot of great players coming through."

Speaking alongside Bale, Ramsey added: "There's still some life left in our legs yet. We're enjoying it. We'll enjoy tonight now as well."

Serge Gnabry scored a hat-trick as Germany rallied to humble Northern Ireland 6-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying and secure top spot in Group C.

Michael Smith had given Northern Ireland a shock early lead on Tuesday, however Germany hit back in emphatic fashion with Leon Goretzka also grabbing a brace for the hosts before Julian Brandt's injury-time strike.

Gnabry's treble took his tally for 2019-20 to 14 goals for club and country as his fine start to the campaign continued with another clinical display. 

Having finished third in the group, Northern Ireland - on whom the result was harsh - must now wait for Friday's draw to discover who they will face in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.

Germany were stunned in the seventh minute when Toni Kroos could only head George Saville's cross to the edge of his own area and Smith unleashed a stunning low strike into the bottom-left corner beyond the reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Germany were almost level five minutes later after Ilkay Gundogan struck the post and soon they had their goal as Gnabry controlled Jonas Hector's cross from the left before swivelling and firing clinically into the far corner from 12 yards out.

Hector was again the provider two minutes before the interval as Germany turned the contest on its head. 

His cross somehow evaded a crowd of bodies before the onrushing Goretzka made sufficient contact to send the ball agonisingly past Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and in off the post.

Within two minutes of the restart, Germany had a third as Lukas Klostermann found Gnabry, who again rifled home in clinical fashion.

Gnabry was celebrating his hat-trick just on the hour when he held off Tom Flanagan before drilling a low shot inside the far post. 

Germany added further gloss, with Goretzka firing in from the edge of the area in the 72nd minute before Brandt struck from the left side of the box in added time.

 

What does it mean? Germany starting to look their old selves

For Germany, it is starting to look a case of 'Crisis? What crisis?'. Seven wins from a possible eight and top spot in a group including Netherlands, and things appear to be starting to click together again for Joachim Low and his team after last year's World Cup disappointment. There was no shame in this defeat for Northern Ireland. They have every reason to go into the play-offs in buoyant mood after giving the big boys a run for their money.

Gnabry continues deadly form 

In his previous outing against British opponents – when club Bayern Munich faced Tottenham in the Champions League last month – Gnabry scored four times. On this occasion it was three. The former Arsenal man is a player reborn in the Bundesliga and looks one of Europe's hottest properties right now.

Smith's brilliant strike a silver lining for Irish

This was a night the Hearts defender will never forget after scoring the goal which put his team ahead against one of Europe's giants. What a goal it was as he demonstrated textbook technique to send a rasping low drive beyond Germany goalkeeper Ter Stegen. 

What's next?

The play-offs await Northern Ireland in March – they will discover their opponents in Friday's draw in Nyon. Boss Michael O'Neill will be in charge for those matches despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City, yet the search for his successor begins now for the Irish Football Association (IFA). With their place already booked, Germany can now look forward to next year's showpiece tournament.

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