Would defeat to Barcelona spell the end for Lopetegui at Real Madrid?
When Real Madrid announced Julen Lopetegui as their manager, there were doubts over whether he was the right man for the job.
But even his biggest critics wouldn’t have expected him to be hanging on already. The latest reports suggest Antonio Conte is being lined up to take over.
Before there’s any managerial change, Madrid face Barcelona in El Clasico this weekend. They’ll be relieved Lionel Messi is out injured, but Lopetegui’s side are still out at 13/5 to win.
Could defeat be the final straw for his time at the Bernabeu?
Lucky to get the job
The European champions were caught cold by Zinedine Zidane’s decision to step down after a third consecutive Champions League win. They didn’t have a replacement lined up. And there weren’t many top-class managers on the market.
Lopetegui’s impressive record with Spain was enough to get him the job. He’d got the best out of the likes of Sergio Ramos, Isco and Marco Asensio in the red shirt of Spain. Surely he could do the same in Madrid’s iconic white strip?
It hasn’t worked out that way. The former Porto manager has looked well out of his depth.
It would have been natural for the La Liga giants to drop off a little after so much recent success and also losing Cristiano Ronaldo. But there’s been an alarming drop-off this term.
Madrid’s 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in midweek ended a run of five games without a win. They also went 480 minutes without scoring during that miserable streak.
On borrowed time?
Lopetegui may well have gone already if there was an alternative out there. If Barca get a convincing win this weekend, Madrid supremo Florentino Perez may have to pull the trigger.
It’s still relatively early in the campaign. Bringing in a new manager would give Madrid a chance to salvage things. No matter what the result on Saturday, it only seems a matter of time until Lopetegui is given the boot.
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