julen lopeteguis job on the line as real madrid face barcelona in clasico
Last Updated : GMT 19:07:01
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Last Updated : GMT 19:07:01
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Julen Lopetegui's job on the line as Real Madrid face Barcelona in Clasico

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Arab Today, arab today Julen Lopetegui's job on the line as Real Madrid face Barcelona in Clasico

Coach Julen Lopetegui.
Barcelona - DPA

Reigning champions and La Liga leaders Barcelona host Real Madrid as Spain's biggest sides butt heads once more on Sunday and it could spell the end of the line for Los Blancos coach Julen Lopetegui.

The Spaniard has endured a torrid time at the helm of Real Madrid in what is becoming a nightmare year, following his dismissal by Spain on the eve of the World Cup after he agreed to take the job at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Lopetegui’s Madrid are seventh after nine games, just four points behind leaders Barcelona, but after an eight-hour goal drought tensions are frayed in the Spanish capital and it is said that a bad result at Camp Nou will result in his dismissal.

"Lopetegui will sit on the bench at Camp Nou as normal," Madrid’s director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueno said.

"In these kind of situations, it is important to remain calm and trust the players. Sunday's game is a great motivation for us.

"(Speculation) is normal. This is football. We have heard the rumours, but we have confidence and hopefully we will play well at Camp Nou."

Although Butragueno guaranteed Lopetegui would remain in charge until the showdown between the arch-rivals, the coach’s prospects for continuing beyond that seem bleak if he cannot secure a victory.

This is the first Clasico for 11 years which will not feature at least one of world football’s most recent greats, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona’s Argentine star suffered an arm injury in the 4-2 win over Sevilla last weekend that will keep him out for three weeks, and Ronaldo signed for Italian giants Juventus in July.

While the Portuguese’s absence has been sorely noted during Madrid’s run without a goal which caused a five match winless run, Barcelona were able to beat Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday without Messi.

Rafinha Alcantara took the Argentine’s place in the side and scored the first goal, and he could deputize again on Sunday, while Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are also out injured.

"I’m very happy for starting, for feeling good, for the win, for the goal and the motivation," said Rafinha.

"This result gives us a lot of confidence and as always we will go for everything on Sunday.

"We’re happy with the game, against a team who was always going to make things difficult for us, we played really well."

Madrid’s only injury problem is right back Dani Carvajal, who is set to miss the game with a calf injury he suffered at the start of October, while Marcelo will be fit after taking a knock against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League Tuesday.

Madrid won 2-1 with an unconvincing performance but it put an end to a run of results that saw them lose four and draw one, leaving Lopetegui content.

"I’m far happier than I was after the Levante game because we've put an end to the run and have won the game," said the beleaguered coach.

"We deserved to have won by a bigger margin. We created a lot of chances and, with in a calmer and winning atmosphere, the team will improve."

The weekend’s other fixtures are Valladolid v Espanyol, Girona v Rayo Vallecano, Athletic Bilbao v Valencia, Celta Vigo v Eibar, Levante v Leganes, Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad, Getafe v Real Betis, Alaves v Villarreal and Sevilla v Huesca.

 

 

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julen lopeteguis job on the line as real madrid face barcelona in clasico julen lopeteguis job on the line as real madrid face barcelona in clasico

 



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julen lopeteguis job on the line as real madrid face barcelona in clasico julen lopeteguis job on the line as real madrid face barcelona in clasico

 



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