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Champions League

Lopetegui defiant amid Real Madrid sack reports

Real Madrid appear to have given their under-fire boss a stay of execution, with the manager preparing the team to face Viktoria Plzen.

Julen Lopetegui during his pre-Plzen press conference.

Julen Lopetegui insists he is only focused on preparing Real Madrid to face Viktoria Plzen and not on speculation that he will be sacked as head coach.

The 52-year-old is under intense pressure after a run of no wins in five matches in all competitions, with a 2-1 defeat to Levante on Saturday leaving them seventh in LaLiga.

Widespread reports in Spain over the last 24 hours have suggested the former Spain boss could be dismissed before this week's Champions League clash with Plzen, or at least prior to the Clásico on Sunday.

But although he refused to speculate on what will happen in the coming weeks, Lopetegui stressed on Monday that he is only interested in masterminding a win at the Santiago Bernabéu against the visitors from the Czech Republic.

"I'm not thinking about anything other than the game [on Tuesday]," he told reporters.

"If you're hoping to see a dejected coach, don't look at me, because I'm excited to play the game and to win.

"We're aware that we haven't been getting good results and we only think about moving on from this moment. To fight is in the DNA of the club and that's what I have learned here.

"I don't know what will happen in a month or in a year. Right now, I'm dressed and sitting here in front of you."

In the aftermath of Madrid's home defeat against Levante on Saturday – their first match since back-to-back 1-0 losses to CSKA Moscow and Deportivo Alavés – speculation has been rife over who could be chosen to succeed Lopetegui.

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and current Real Madrid Castilla coach Santiago Solari are among the names being linked with the job, but Lopetegui is paying no attention to the reports.

"I'm not aware of the news and I don't believe this is an important factor," he said. "If I had seen it, I wouldn't be a coach, much less the coach of Real Madrid.

"This is a champion team. They know what they have to do and I'm absolutely certain that we're going to play a great game. I have no doubt."


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