MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui is convinced his stuttering, goal-shy team can turn things around and have a season to remember as he prepares for a vital La Liga game at home to Levante on Saturday.
Real are fourth in the standings after eight games and only two points behind surprise leaders Sevilla but Lopetegui is feeling the heat after four games without a win in all competitions in which his side have failed to score, their longest run without a goal since 1985.
“I have full confidence in the squad I have and I’m convinced we’re going to bounce back. There’s a long way to go this season and I’m sure we’re going to be in a very strong position at the end of the road,” Lopetegui told a news conference on Friday.
“I’m sure that we’re going to put in some great performances and have a great season.”
Against Levante, Lopetegui will be boosted by the return of playmaker Isco and influential defender Marcelo, with right back Dani Carvajal the only player ruled out through injury.
Stories that Lopetegui is under increasing pressure at Real continued to circle during the international break, with Italian media reporting that former Chelsea coach Antonio Conte is being considered as his replacement if Real’s poor results continue.
Lopetegui, however, feels he has the support of the club.
“I feel absolutely supported, I’m calm and focused on my work. I don’t listen to what people outside say, I am only focused on getting the team to play well again,” he said.
“The demands here as high as anywhere and I know that the team can hit top form again. You just have to believe and keep trying. For now, we’re only focused on the game with Levante.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)