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Lopetegui confident he will be in charge against Barca

Madrid (AFP) – Julen Lopetegui has said he is “absolutely convinced” he will still be Real Madrid’s coach for the Clasico against Barcelona in La Liga on Sunday. 

Madrid hung on for a 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday as goals from Karim Benzema and Marcelo secured a much-needed, albeit unconvincing, victory.

Lopetegui said he hoped the result would prove a “turning point” for his team, who had lost three games on the bounce. 

The result puts the European champions level on points with Roma in Group G of the Champions League and offers Lopetegui some respite ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Camp Nou. 

Asked if he will be in the dug-out against Barca, Lopetegui said after the match: “I am absolutely convinced of that yes. We won and we are already thinking from tomorrow about preparing for Sunday.” 

Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno also appeared to confirm on Tuesday night that Lopetegui would be in charge against Barcelona. 

“Yes, yes, as normal, absolutely,” Butragueno said. “I really believe in this type of game, it is very important to stay calm, be together, trust the players. 

“We live it as normal, it’s football and it’s true, we hear rumours, but we go with confidence to Camp Nou.” 

Madrid’s players, including Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Isco, have been pledging their support to Lopetegui since the loss at home to Levante on Saturday. 

Benzema was Madrid’s star performer against Plzen and offered his backing afterwards. “The boss is very good, the players are with him,” Benzema said. 

“It is important the coach feels the confidence of his players and I have a lot of confidence in him.” 

Madrid have struggled for goals in recent weeks but they were a threat going forward against Plzen, who looked on course for a straightforward defeat when Marcelo made it 2-0 early in the second half. 

Patrik Hrosovsky, however, pulled a goal back with 12 minutes left and Madrid were left hanging on at the end. The final whistle was accompanied by disgruntled whistles from the home fans. 

“I have not noticed anything special, the fans are sensible and treat us fantastically well,” Lopetegui said. 

“I would have liked to achieve a more comfortable victory but the most important thing is the three points.” 

Marcelo’s involvement against Barcelona could be in doubt after he sustained an impact injury late on. 

“He has taken a very heavy blow but it seems that it is a knock and not a muscular issue,” Lopetegui said. “I hope he will recover but we have to wait.” 

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