Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui on Monday downplayed the team’s poor results in his debut season, including their current five-game winless skid, amid media rumours that his departure could be imminent.
Lopetegui spoke at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s home game against Czech club Viktoria Plzen in the UEFA Champions League group stage, reports Efe.
“If you want to see a buried or downcast coach, don’t look at me,” Lopetegui asserted, but became agitated when asked if he would still be around for Sunday’s El Clasico clash against archrival Barcelona.
“I can’t confirm any more than that I’m here and suited up for Real Madrid, I can’t confirm more than the current situation, and if I’m here it’s because I’ll be the coach tomorrow, there’s no doubt, but if you want to ask me what’s going to happen inside a month or one year, we are focused on the present, it is our job and responsibility,” he explained.
In June, the Spanish coach was fired from his national team just days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup when news of his hiring at Real Madrid became public, but media speculation has said his exit may be imminent after winning only five of 12 games with Los Blancos.
“At Real Madrid I have always learned to fight, which is the DNA of this club, and I have it engraved in me. We’re aware that we’ve got time to turn the situation around,” Lopetegui said, adding “The changing room is strong because the players are champions.”
“Viktoria (Plzen) are a physical team, with quality players and tactically very organized,” he said, adding “The game requires all our energy.”
After two matches, Real Madrid is currently third in Champions League Group G with three points, right behind Roma.
The two teams are tied when it comes to points, but the Italian team’s higher number of goals scored gives it an edge in the standings.
CSKA Moscow leads the group with four points, while Viktoria Plzen is at the bottom with one point.
In La Liga, Real Madrid is seventh in the table with 14 points, four points behind league leader Barcelona.