Lopetegui defiant despite Real's losing streak

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has lost five games in all competitions since taking over the European champions.
Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has lost five games in all competitions since taking over the European champions.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui insisted he is not preoccupied by the threat of being sacked despite his side crashing to a third straight defeat after they went down 2-1 at home to Levante in the Spanish LaLiga yesterday.

Levante were up by two goals inside 15 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu through Jose Luis Morales and a penalty from Roger Marti. Real hit the woodwork three times and had two goals ruled out.

Marcelo finally ended Real's longest-ever goal drought, spanning 481 minutes (the previous longest dry spell was 464 minutes in 1985), by thumping into the net in the 72nd minute but an equaliser proved elusive for Lopetegui's side.

"My job? Right now, that's the last thing I am thinking about," Lopetegui told reporters.

"I feel more encouraged than ever to continue because the team gave their heart and soul on the pitch. The team left everything on the pitch and this is the way to turn the corner - there is no other way.

"Sooner or later, we will come out of this. The dressing room was sad, but the players are keen to lift themselves up and look to the next game. We have a very important game in the Champions League in three days."

Lopetegui, sacked as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup after announcing he was joining Real, has lost five games in all competitions since taking over the European champions.

Real host Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday before a crunch game away to arch-rivals Barcelona next Sunday and the coach admitted his team need to have a meeting to address their failures in front of goal.

"We have to sit down and think hard about what we are doing wrong and change our path. The ball is just not going in. We have to just keep trying and not worrying, because the team did many things right today," he added.

"I think that we deserved to win today clearly, but football is how it is, the team who scores the most goals is the one who wins.

"We attacked a lot and very well, but we have to keep trying and nothing more. We have to change our dynamic and start winning."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Lopetegui defiant despite Real's losing streak'. Print Edition | Subscribe