Wednesday 17 July 2019

Lopetegui tells Real to forget about Ronaldo

Julen Lopetegui. Photo: PA
Julen Lopetegui. Photo: PA

independent.ie Sportsdesk

Julen Lopetegui is determined to look to the future as Real Madrid prepare to begin La Liga life without Cristiano Ronaldo when they face Getafe at the Bernabeu tonight (9.15).

Ronaldo's departure inevitably cast a shadow over Real's close season but Lopetegui - who did not shy away from controversy himself in the manner of his arrival - insists it is time to move on.

Gareth Bale will look to press his case for more game time as he starts alongside Karim Benzema up front, but Luka Modric may require more time to recover from his World Cup exertions.

Lopetegui told a press conference: "We've got a magnificent squad here - we've got enough talent to be a great team and I'm convinced we'll become just that.

"The only players that matter now are those who are here at the club. Those who aren't here aren't important to us.

"I'm thrilled with the players' attitude and hunger to stake their claim. We want to be in a position to win La Liga, which earns you a place in the rest of the competitions."

Lopetegui's first big decision is whether to bring in goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who missed the Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid due to an administrative error, or stick with regular number one Keylor Navas.

Lopetegui added: "There's no magic formula - I believe in managing things on a weekly basis and we'll look and see who's best for the team at each particular stage. We've got two brilliant options in Keylor Navas and Courtois. There's going to be fierce competition, but that's only a good thing for the team."

Getafe coach Jose Bordalas has insisted his side, who acquitted themselves well in La Liga last season, eventually finishing in eighth place, must go to the Bernabeu with no fear.

"They are much superior but we have to play as a team without any complexes," said Bordalas. "We will try to compete and there is no point thinking about the past."

Lopetegui is impressed with Getafe's set-up and has warned his players to be on their guard to avoid any kind of early-season slip-up.

Lopetegui said: "We face a side that finished eighth in La Liga last season and who have the same coach and a great team spirit.

"They've also enjoyed a very good pre-season. They've recruited really well and their squad has more quality than last year. We have to make sure we're really well prepared for a season that excites and motivates us and in which we want to be the ones writing the headlines."

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