Real Madrid’s latest loss, a 2-1 defeat at home against Levante means the club have now gone 5 games without a win in all competitions, a stat that is almost alien to the famed club. The fixture list hardly gets any easier as Madrid will face a Champions League tie against Viktoria Plzen at home which they are expected to win, and then face the grandest of matches against Barcelona.
Unless that match ends in a draw, something will have to give next weekend. Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui is under extreme pressure with Madrid who have started the season poorly. First losing out on the Super Cup to Atletico Madrid by 4-2 and then losing 3 games already in the league. Only the fact that Barcelona had a few problems of their own in recent weeks means that they are still in touching distance and 4 points from them. But their league position of 4th place seems odd and disjointed for Los Blancos.
In truth Lopetegui should be given 18 months with Real to implement his system and ideas and to get to grips with losing one of the greatest players in the history of football in Cristiano Ronaldo. But football doesn’t do time and Lopetegui could be sacked next weekend if Real lose to Barca. This will almost be a certainty if it ends in heavy defeat for them. But maybe there is a shining light for Madrid after all.
That glimmer of hope has come under unfortunate circumstances though as Lionel Messi will be ruled out of the game with a fractured arm. The match will have a level playing field and for the first time in a decade no Ronaldo or Messi to weave their skills and influence the game.
But staring down at Lopetegui and Madrid is the fact that Barcelona have not lost a league game at Camp Nou for over 2 years- that is an incredible record that Madrid of course will be motivated for to break it.
But then again are the players playing for Lopetegui? Is there a rift in the dressing room? Or is Madrid’s form simply down to the fact that so much has changed for them with Ronaldo joining Juventus and Zinedine Zidane leaving his coaching role? If they are playing for the new manager this should be evident next weekend, where a win will guarantee his job for a few more weeks and may well calm the waters. After all there is no better feeling for Madrid’s president Florentino Perez than beating the old enemy.