In Brief

Real Madrid crisis: Clasico loss against Barcelona could see Julen Lopetegui sacked

Spanish giants may turn to Antonio Conte after a dismal run of results

According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui could be out of a job if his side lose against Barcelona in this month’s El Clasico.

Going into this week’s international break, Real are fourth in La Liga with 14 points from their eight matches. On Saturday they were beaten 1-0 at Alaves. The loss means they are without a win – or a goal – in their last four matches.

With no Cristiano Ronaldo leading the attack this season, the goals have dried up for Lopetegui and Real. The club failed to sign a replacement for CR7 and this could come back to haunt the former Spain coach now that the pressure is on at the Bernabeu.

Clasico d-day for Lopetegui

While Real’s stars head off on international duty, Lopetegui will have his work cut out ahead of their return to La Liga action.

The Spanish newspaper AS reports that even with victories against Levante on 20 October and against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on 23 October, Lopetegui’s future could be decided if Real suffer a bad result in their biggest fixture.

On 28 October Real travel to Barcelona. AS writer Marco Ruiz says that although now is not the time for the club to make a knee-jerk decision over Lopetegui, defeat at the Camp Nou “could trigger a change”.

Conte to take over?

The Daily Express says that Real have already settled on former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to replace Lopetegui should they lose against Barcelona. Bernabeu bosses are reportedly set to meet today to discuss Lopetegui’s future and potential replacements. 

The Daily Mail adds that former Real boss Jose Mourinho, who is currently under pressure at Manchester United, is also among the names being mentioned.

Safe for now

While Lopetegui’s time at Real could be short-lived – he only replaced Zinedine Zidane in June – the 52-year-old “isn’t in danger at the moment but is being questioned more and more” says the newspaper Marca.

According to a poll on the Marca website, fans believe that the main reason for Real Madrid’s crisis is down to the planning by the club’s sporting department. But in a separate poll, 59% of 11,000 votes don’t believe Lopetegui is the right coach to get Real back on track.

Sport.es has also analysed the reasons behind Real’s struggles this season. The newspaper has come up with “the 15 points that explain the crisis of Real Madrid”. At No.1 on the list is that the team “plays idle”.   

Sport.es says: “The latest results, but above all the performances offered have placed the Julen Lopetegui team in a difficult situation. The contribution of Lopetegui to the team is null and the players do not answer either.

“This has led the team to a situation of crisis in which Lopetegui appears as the [one] responsible, but the performance of some players has also been questioned.”

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