“We’re passionate about winning the league because it is a measure of the day-to-day work,” Julen Lopetegui has stated. But winning the league is something Real Madrid have found harder than winning the Champions League in recent years.
Los Blancos have only won two LaLiga titles in the past 10 seasons. And in those two title-winning seasons in 2011-12 and 2016-17, they had managed to secure 13 points from the first five games (Mourinho finished top with 100 points in 2012; Zidane with 93 points in 2017). And after Saturday’s victory over Espanyol, this is the same number of points that Lopetegui has picked up from his five encounters, which, after Barcelona’s draw with Girona yesterday, leaves his side joint top of the table with the Blaugrana.
Aside from the aforementioned title-winning seasons, Madrid managed to get 13 points in their first five games with Schuster in 2007-08 (who won the league with 85 points), in 2013-14 with Ancelotti (who finished third with 87 points) and in 2015-16 with Benitez (whose mid-season replacement, Zidane finished second with 90 points).
Lopetegui knows that his success will be evaluated in great measure by how he does in the league, and he will have to try to avoid massive slip ups against the other big two.
Considering that Zidane lost 3-0 to Barcelona at home last season, Benitez also suffered a 4-0 home bruising from Barcelona in 2015, and Ancelotti was beaten 4-0 by Atlético in 2014-15, big defeats to the other big two can prove to be decisive by the end of the campaign.
Real Madrid have won four Champions League titles in five seasons, but no mistakes go unpunished in LaLiga.
Lopetegui has had much better start than Zidane last season
Lopetegui has enjoyed a much better start this season than Zidane did last year: the Basque coach has earned five more points than 'Zizou' had after five games. After the Frenchman suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at home to Betis, and drew at home to Levante and Valencia (leaving the club winless in the first three encounters at the Bernabéu), his team had only accrued 8 points by this point last season. Madrid’s form did not much improve over the rest of the season, leaving Los Blancos in third place and 17 points behind Barcelona by the campaign’s end.
Lopetegui’s first five results in 2018-19
22/9/2018: Real 1 – 0 Espanyol (W)
15/9/2018: Athletic 1 – 1 Real (D)
01/9/2018: Real 4 – 1 Leganés (W)
25/8/2018: Girona 1 – 4 Real (W)
18/8/2018: Real 2 – 0 Getafe (W)
Zidane’s first five results in 2017-18
20/9/2017: Real 0 – 1 Betis (L)
17/9/2017: Sociedad 1 – Real 3 (W)
09/9/2017: Real 1 – 1 Levante (D)
27/08/2017 Real 2 – 2 Valencia (D)
20/08/2017: Deportivo 0 – 3 Real (W)