Under-fire Lopetegui preparing for decisive ten days

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-17 20:15:28|Editor: mym
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MADRID, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui has some good news as he prepares for ten days which will almost certainly decide his future at the club.

A run of four games without a goal, consisting of defeats to Sevilla, CSKA Moscow and Deportivo Alaves before the current international break, led to serious speculation that the former Spain boss could be shown the door before the resumption of club football.

Lopetegui has survived the international break and now faces two games which should help ease the pressure on him, as Real Madrid prepare to entertain Levante in La Liga on Saturday, before facing Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.

On paper, Plzen are the weakest side in Madrid's Champions League group, which also contains CSKA Moscow and AS Roma, while Levante currently lie in mid-table in La Liga, and although they can be tough to break down, Real Madrid should have enough to win with relative ease.

The good news for Lopetegui is that he will be able to count on left-back Marcelo and playmaker Isco for both matches. Marcelo was sidelined before the international break with a muscle injury, while Isco has been out for just under a month after an emergency appendix operation.

Although Marcelo was criticized for some of his displays before his injury, the Brazilian's return gives Madrid an attacking outlet down the left, while Isco offers more creative options in and around the penalty area.

Gareth Bale's return this coming weekend is still up in the air after he trained alone on Tuesday and posted a tweet saying he was "working hard," and "couldn't wait to get back on the pitch with the boys".

Wins against Levante and Plzen will momentarily ease the pressure on Lopetegui, although another slip up would almost certainly cost him his job, but the decisive moment may come when Real Madrid visit FC Barcelona on October 27th.

Victory in the Camp Nou against their traditional rivals, who have struggled for form themselves, would change everything for Lopetegui and Real Madrid, while putting the future of Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde in doubt. However, a defeat would take Lopetegui back to square one and probably to the job center.

It promises to be a fascinating, nerve-wracking and potentially decisive ten days for everyone involved, and one that will dominate headlines both in Spain and abroad.