Julen Lopetegui gave his first pre-match conference as coach of Real Madrid, ahead of the International Champions Cup tie against Manchester United in Miami tonight. It was his first appearance before the media since his official unveiling as the new boss in June. The Basque coach addressed several of the current issues surrounding the team, before overseeing a training session at Hard Rock Stadium, the venue for tonight’s fixture.
Feelings: “At the moment, we’re doing double sessions and we delighted with the work, the attitude and enthusiasm of the players. We have a lot young players contributing. There are no injuries, and we are taking big steps forward as we expected.”
Ronaldo’s exit and Bale’s role: “Cristiano is one of the most important players in the club’s history. He expressed his intention to go and the club facilitated his exit, recognizing the legacy he has left behind. As for Bale, I’m convinced he is going to do a lot this year. He is an extraordinary player and he is going to give his best. We will work around him.”
Reinventing the team without Ronaldo: “When I signed he still belonged to the club, but soon after he expressed his intention to go. It’s an exciting challenge reinventing the team without Ronaldo, making it competitive and capable of winning titles. I have no doubt that it will happen with these players that we have.”
Reinforcements: “We have six excellent players on standby: Ramos, Varane, Modric, Kovacic, etc. We are delighted with the team we have. We are convinced we can fight to achieve all of our objectives and work to be a good team.”
The game against United: “The important thing is preparation for the season ahead. In terms of fitness, tactics, getting up to speed for the competition, some players need more time. But at Madrid there is no such thing as a friendly. We have had less time to prepare. I think that they have already played four games. We will try to be at our best, to put in a good performance and avoid injuries. We are moving forward in the preparation for the Supercup; that is the first official game of the season.”
Bale and Benzema: “They have been working in an extraordinary way. I am delighted. They have and everyone has, with commitment and enthusiasm. We all have a magnificent opportunity to reinvent the team without an important player, and to reinforce the word ‘team’. We need to have it clear what we want. Although it has to be emphasized that we have some great individual players and with them we will try to build a great team.”
Keylor Navas: “I spoke with him and we are happy to have him and happy it is how it is. There is nothing more to say. Keylor has been crucial [to this team] for a long time and will continue to be. We want to continue enjoying the performances that Keylor has given for Madrid.
Signing a new ‘9’: “We won’t talk about hypotheticals, the reality is that I am convinced by the team I have. I prefer not to talk about things that haven’t happened.”
Bale happy to stay: “He’s happy, very happy to play for Madrid, that is certain. He is delighted to stay. It is a magnificent opportunity for him to show the great footballer he can be. I have spoken with him and with everyone. The game plan that we have and what it is giving us… we have started on a beautiful path.”