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Koke ready to 'boss' Spain's midfield

Spain
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By ESPN Staff

Barcelona coach Rijkaard fired

BARCELONA, Spain -- Frank Rijkaard is being fired as Barcelona's coach and will be replaced on June 30 by Pep Guardiola, who manages the club's reserves. Rijkaard, a former star for the Netherlands national team, took over as Barcelona's coach in 2003, led the team to the Spanish League championship in 2005 and the La Liga and European Champions League titles the following year. The club is about to complete its second straight season without a major trophy. Barcelona is 18-8-10 in the league with two matches remaining, in third place and 17 points behind champion Real Madrid. Barcelona was eliminated by Manchester United in the Champions League semifinals. Club president Joan Laporta said Thursday that Rijkaard "had made history with Barcelona" and that Guardiola "would continue the footballing ideology, which had led to success." The 37-year-old Guardiola won six league titles in 11 seasons as a midfielder with Barcelona. "He has the knowledge, the optimism and the self-confidence to achieve success," Laporta said.

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