Two days before Spain’s venture in the Russia World Cup, the Spanish Football Federation hit hard by announcing the dismissal of coach Julen Lopetegui. The decision, which was like a bomb for the La Roja, was initiated by the agreement between Real Madrid and Lopetegui to succeed Zinedine Zidane as the head coach of the Los Blancos after the World Cup.
Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Federation, failed to appreciate this negotiation, that happened behind him. Lopetegui was presented the next day to the press as the new Madrid coach. Something very harsh to digest, as he who headed there as a favorite nation for the World Cup title.
First official match and first defeat
One month after the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui leads his first official match as the head of Real Madrid and could count on most of his squad members. But at the end of a spectacular match that ended in extra-time, the Madristas bowed heavily (2-4) against city-rivals Atletico Madrid. It marked the first time a Real coach lost his first match since Bernd Schuster in 2007.
First win against Getafe
The first official victory came on August 19 in the first La Liga match against Getafe (2-0). Without forcing his talent too much, and with more than 77% of possession, Real Madrid prevailed thanks to an excellent Gareth Bale, the undisputed ‘king’ for the new coach after Ronaldo exit. Though it was too early to see what Julen Lopetegui brought to Madrid, the players seemed to be receptive to the instructions of the Spanish coach.
The turning point against Seville
A defeat that looks like a real turning point for Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid. While traveling to Andalucia with the best defense and no defeat since the beginning of the Liga, the Los Blancos were totally disillusioned and were rightly corrected by a very impressive Sevilla FC (0-3). Well below the collective effort and without reaction, Real Madrid began under Lopetegui started to creep into hell.
Defeat in Moscow in the Champions League
A week after the defeat against Seville, Julen Lopetegui failed to put the right ingredients and bowed with his team to the surprise in Moscow, in the Champions League, with a mistake early in the game (0 -1). Against CSKA, the former Spanish coach failed to count on several players like Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Isco due to injury. Luka Modric came on the hour of play but to no effect. Lopetegui could also see the lack of efficiency in his players throughout the encounter.
Home defeat against Levante
Losing for the first time in the season at home against Levante, Julen Lopetegui chained a third defeat in four games and the crisis increased. If the possession was once again in favor of Madrid, the team failed to materialize and was unable to find the net through the defensive curtain of Levante. After this pathetic failure, rumors of dismissal were becoming more and more insistent.
El Clasico’s slump
This was the last opportunity for Julen Lopetegui to save his skin. But against arch-rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid has totally sunk (1-5). Two goals down in the first half, Madrid, however, offered a fight in the second period by returning to the mark through Marcelo and thanks to the coaching of Lopetegui. But defensive lapses and lack of efficiency paid off very quickly when Barca increased the pace again to score three more.