The Portuguese superstar moved to Turin in a €112million transfer in July and Messi believes Madrid will sorely miss his services.
The Barcelona star told Catalunya Radio on Monday: “Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world with a great squad [but] it’s evident that the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo makes them less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League.”
New Los Blancos boss Lopetegui however responded to Messi on when he told Onda Cero: “I would not doubt the players of Real Madrid.
“We have done okay but it is only the start and we have three weeks ahead with the Champions League.
“We have achieved the aim of nine points and now we need to reflect. The players need to come back fit and we will see what happens.”
The Spaniard insists that the reigning European champions and La Liga giants intend to compete for every trophy.
“We want to win everything”
“Our target is everything this season. With the league you have to always be on form and it rewards consistency but we want to win everything.”
Lopetegui also revealed that he did not have a conversation with Ronaldo prior to his departure.
“I did not speak to him, it was a situation where he had already decided to leave and the club went along with this for a player who had been tremendous. They allowed this desire and restlessness that he had.
“I expressed from the start [the players I wanted]. I thought the squad was fantastic, the players are very good in all areas of the pitch and are capable to compete for titles.”
The Sport360 team is here bringing you the latest Real Madrid news on Tuesday.
6pm – Julen Lopetegui has no regrets on Spain exit
The Real Madrid coach has spoken on his Spain departure ahead of their UEFA Nations League encounter against England. He was sacked as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup. Read what he said here.
1pm – Real find out Club World Cup UAE fate
Los Blancos now know who they have to beat to defend their title in the UAE.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 4, 2018
11am – Recap a glorious past week for Real’s award winners
🌟 What a few days for our UEFA award winners!
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 3, 2018
10.30am – Lopetegui didn’t hold talks with Ronaldo
Read more, here.
The Spanish Football Federation sacked Lopetegui on the eve of the 2018 World Cup following the manner of his announcement as successor to Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Spain were eventually eliminated at the last-16 stage by hosts Russia after a penalty shoot-out, but are preparing for a fresh start under new head coach Luis Enrique in the opening match of their UEFA Nations League campaign against England at Wembley on Saturday.
Lopetegui, meanwhile, has guided Los Blancos to three successive La Liga victories in the new domestic season after seeing his side beaten by rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
The 52-year-old now hopes everyone can move forwards.
“Simply I took a decision and I would take it again, I did it honestly and I have no regrets,” Lopetegui said to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, as quoted by Marca.
“I am very happy to train Madrid, we have a great challenge, a fantastic objective and I have a lot of hope that it goes great for the national team with Luis Enrique.
“I am a fervent supporter of Spain, now it is period for me in the past and now we are focused on our objective which is a big challenge.
“We are all focused on what we have to do now and the past is in the past. The way it happened cannot be changed.”
The departure of talisman forward Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus has, so far, not had a major impact on Real Madrid’s performances.
Lopetegui has set his squad high expectations as they look to wrestle back domestic dominance from Barcelona and also mount another successful defence of their European crown.
“We have done okay, but it is only the start and we have three weeks ahead with the Champions League,” the Real Madrid boss added.
“We have achieved the aim of nine points and now we need to reflect. The players need to come back fit (after the international break) and we will see what happens.
“Out target is everything this season. With the league you have to always be on form and it rewards consistency, but we want to win everything.”