Gerard Pique References 1989 Michigan Basketball After Julen Lopetegui Sacking

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2018

Spain's Gerard Pique listens to the national anthems before an international friendly soccer match between Spain and Tunisia in Krasnodar, Russia, Saturday, June 9, 2018. (AP Photo)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Spain defender Gerard Pique isn't publicly sweating the team's decision to fire manager Julen Lopetegui a day before the start of the World Cup. In fact, he cited a deep cut from college basketball when discussing the matter.

"University of Michigan. Basketball. 1989. NCAA Champion. It wouldn't be the first time it happened," Pique tweeted, as translated by ESPN.com. "All together, now more than ever."

As ESPN noted, Pique was referencing Michigan firing Bill Frieder before the 1988-89 NCAA tournament after he announced he was planning to leave after that season to become the coach at Arizona State. The Wolverines instead fired him, promoted assistant Steve Fisher to head coach and won the national championship.

Spain, meanwhile, decided to cut ties with Lopetegui on Wednesday after he made it known he would be taking over as Real Madrid manager following the World Cup. National team sporting director Fernando Hierro will serve as manager for the tournament, and Spain will be hoping to replicate the 1988-89 Michigan men's basketball team over the next month in Russia.    

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