Fighting words: Cloud over future but Real coach digs in

Sports | 23 Oct 2018

Julen Lopetegui says he will fight to turn Real Madrid's stuttering season around but could not guarantee he will be in charge for the Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday.

Lopetegui's future is in doubt just four months after swapping the Spanish national team for Madrid on the eve of the football World Cup in Russia.

His side face Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League tomorrow (HK time), on the back of five games without a win and having lost all of their last three.

"What I've learned about this club is to fight, that is the DNA of this club," Lopetegui said. "That's what we're going to do, fight - both the players and the coaching staff. We know results haven't been great but we are going to turn this around. We are going to fight."

Asked if he knew that he would be in the dug-out when Real visit Nou Camp this weekend, Lopetegui said: "I'm here now, that's all I can say. I am the coach at this moment.

"If you ask me what is going to happen in a month or a year, I can't tell you. We're focused on the present."

Madrid's poor run has left them seventh in La Liga while defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League last month sees them sitting third in Group G. Key players have offered their support to Lopetegui, including Brazilian Marcelo who insisted the team were "with him to the death".

"The players are strong," Lopetegui said. "They are champions not by coincidence, but because they are strong. They have had bad times and bad moments but they have a lot of strength."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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