News ID: 220066
Published: 0246 GMT August 18, 2018

Real needs to banish doubts about new era in season opener

Real needs to banish doubts about new era in season opener
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos (R) battles Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa for a header during the UEFA Super Cup meeting at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia, on August 15, 2018.

Life without Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane has got off to a rocky start for Real Madrid after losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid and the Spanish giant will be eager to smooth over those cracks in its opening La Liga game against Getafe today.

Real finished 17 points behind the runaway champion Barcelona last season although Los Blancos compensated by lifting a third consecutive Champions League title, Reuters reported.

However, the departure of Ronaldo, the club’s leading scorer for the past nine seasons, to the Serie A champion Juventus means Real is lacking firepower ahead of the new campaign.

New coach Julen Lopetegui begins his first season in La Liga with the blemish of being sacked by Spain on the eve of this year’s World Cup for the manner in which he negotiated his move to Madrid.

Lopetegui is a highly respected tactician and had made Spain one of the favorites to win the tournament before his undignified exit threw Spain’s campaign into chaos, leading La Roja to being knocked out by the host Russia in the last 16.

The Spaniard, however, lacks the winning record of his French predecessor Zidane, who lifted nine trophies in two-and-a-half seasons at Madrid before quitting in June. Lopetegui’s only spell in charge of a top European club was a trophy-less tenure with FC Porto lasting 18 months.

His already unstable reputation could be further tarnished if Madrid fails to get off to a flying start against Getafe, especially as Real faces stiff competition in the title race from Atletico and Barca, which have had far busier transfer windows.

Atletico, which finished above Real last season in second spot, begins its campaign on Monday away to Valencia, which finished fourth last season to return to the Champions League.


‘No doubts’


Meanwhile, Lopetegui batted away talk about the club’s possible transfer targets ahead of today’s game.

“Right now we’re focusing on getting the best out of the squad we have which is a squad we love, we have a lot of talent and we’re going to work with it,” Lopetegui told a news conference on Saturday.

“We like the players we have and I have no doubts about the squad I have. Our players have a fantastic attitude, and people are going to see a Madrid side with a lot of talent. The important players are the ones that are here, not the ones that are not.”

Real’s only new arrivals so far have been right back Alvaro Odriozola, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and 18-year-old Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr.

Important back up players Theo Hernandez and Mateo Kovacic meanwhile have been loaned out to Real Sociedad and Chelsea respectively.

Lopetegui, however, said the main thing on his mind was getting off to a strong start in the league.

“We have to focus on our games right now because the three points tomorrow are worth the same as all the other games, so we have to realize the season is starting now,” added the former Spain coach.

“I’m really impressed with the enthusiasm the players have to revindicate themselves and with the talent they have.

“We want to win this league title, it’s the competition which examines your work every day. My biggest concern is to make sure we are capable of competing.”


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