Lopetegui rues injuries as Real Madrid honeymoon period ends
Julen Lopetegui made a point of highlighting injuries to key players after his good start as Real Madrid coach ended with three winless matches in succession.
After being hired as Zinedine Zidane's successor, Lopetegui presided over a solid start to the season, dropping just two points in his first six matches across LaLiga and the Champions League.
But Madrid were beaten 3-0 by Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on September 26, which was followed by a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid and Tuesday's shock 1-0 defeat away to CSKA Moscow.
The pressure on Lopetegui has started to increase, but he is adamant it is only a blip, pointing to his lengthy injury list after Dani Carvajal – who he expects to miss a few weeks with a calf problem – was added on Thursday.
"We've had a few setbacks and injuries," Lopetegui told reporters on Friday. "Marcelo and Carvajal, who might be out for a few weeks, of course Isco too.
"And [Gareth] Bale, for example picked up a strain [against Atletico]. These are things you see regularly with so many matches.
Carvajal medical report.https://t.co/v4KXCPqLjm
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 4, 2018
"Now we must overcome setbacks. It's easier to make decisions with a full squad."
Lopetegui does expect Bale to return against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday, however.
"He's a key player, an important player. Luckily, he's trained well," the coach added. "He felt a twinge and it was good for him to stop, it didn't get worse. That's why he came off against Atletico and now he's ready again."
The former Spain boss was asked if he felt the criticism levelled at Madrid had been unfair or exaggerated, but he appeared to be calm about the situation.
"Well, this is Real Madrid, it's part of being the coach of this club," he said. "The players are working hard; the attitude is very good.
"There are always setbacks, you just have to overcome them. Over a season you have highs and lows – 10 days ago it was all perfect.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 5, 2018
"It depends if you see the glass half full or half empty. I think in LaLiga at the moment we are tied at the top, and in the Champions League we had the performance against Roma [a 3-0 win], then we deserved the points against CSKA Moscow – hit the woodwork three times, we just couldn't take the chances.
"We're not here to analyse what people think. We're here to see what happens day in day out.
"We focus on the game. We know what the club's objectives are and we're still on course, but we want to improve and I'm sure we will."