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Julen Lopetegui’s days at Real Madrid are reportedly “numbered” after Los Blancos suffered their fourth defeat in five matches at home to Levante on Saturday and have an El Clasico clash with Barcelona on the horizon.
Real were two goals down to the Frogs inside 13 minutes at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and Marca reported the Real coach could be fired imminently, whether it’s on Sunday, Monday “or in the next week, or after El Clasico.”
Lopetegui will take his side to the Camp Nou on Sunday, where anything but victory would see Real go five league matches without a win. Los Blancos sit fifth in La Liga but could soon fall further, and Marcelo’s consolatory strike against Levante was their first goal in four matches.
Lopetegui was asked for his take on speculation regarding his seemingly futile future in Madrid and put up a show of defiance following the defeat to Levante, via Goal:
Julen Lopetegui on the talk of him facing the sack at Real Madrid… https://t.co/ANQn6ENrZS
Levante’s only other La Liga victory over Real at the Bernabeu came in 2007—they’ve now beaten Los Blancos more times away (two) than they have at home (one) which is proof of the current disharmony in Madrid.
The Mirror‘s Jack Rathborn cited a report from El Pais, which said Real’s Castilla coach, Santiago Solari, could be appointed manager on an interim basis until Christmas, when they could name a longer-term successor.
What’s more, Rathborn wrote that Real president Florentino Perez held crisis talks with Lopetegui after Saturday’s loss, with only two days respite before the team is in UEFA Champions League action against Viktoria Plzen.
The Spanish Football Podcast showed Marca wasn’t the only Spanish publication which had surmised the writing is on the wall for Lopetegui:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
“Impotence” says the frontpage of AS (but luckily there’s an advert bottom right that can help with that…)
They say “Lopetegui’s head is hanging by a thread”. https://t.co/22oXsIIGYv
Even given the current streak of lacking form, Real would likely not stand to benefit from sacking Lopetegui in such a busy part of their schedule and with a crucial Clasico just around the corner.
Barca are top of the table, four points ahead of Los Blancos, and Real’s only saving grace is that Lionel Messi will be missing after he fractured the radial bone inhis right arm during their 4-2 win over Sevilla on Saturday:
B/R Football @brfootball
BREAKING: Barcelona announce Lionel Messi is expected to miss three weeks with a fracture in his right arm, ruling him out of next weekend’s El Clasico. https://t.co/DgrYxVzwIz
Journalist Miguel Delaney analysed the managerial mess at Real, whereby Zinedine Zidane left after winning three consecutive Champions League titles but felt the current squad was in need of freshening up:
Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney
Seeing the Madrid goals, jesus. This can’t be emphasised enough but was Lopetegui’s decision pre-World Cup one of the worst in football history? Scuttled Spain and his own career. For one, Zidane left that joh because knew a squad in need of replenishment wouldn’t get it.
Perhaps it’s true that Real’s golden era was over and that, combined with Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus, it was all too much change to occur within a short space of time. Perhaps no manager could have maintained Real’s level of success after that.
But Lopetegui has taken Real so far from those heights in recent losses that it appears a matter of when, and not if he departs, though a turnaround in El Clasico would be the perfect stage on which to begin his fight back.