Julen Lopetegui refused to be drawn on continued speculation over his future after Alaves turned up the heat yet further on the Real Madrid coach with a dramatic 1-0 stoppage-time victory at Mendizorrotza.
Lopetegui had called for a response from the midweek Champions League loss away to CSKA Moscow, which followed a disappointing goalless draw at home in the Madrid derby at a 3-0 La Liga defeat at Sevilla.
However, despite captain Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Gareth Bale all coming back into the side, Los Blancos once again lacked a cutting edge.
The Welshman returned after a groin issue kept him out of the CSKA clash, but he did not finish the game as injury struck again in the second half. There was no confirmation from Real of the nature of the problem, but it could make Bale a doubt for Wales’ upcoming internationals against Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
Alaves conceded possession for large spells of the match, but remained in the contest and were rewarded in the fifth minute of added time when substitute Garcia headed in from close range.
Asked about his position at the post-match press conference, the Real boss said: “It’s not something I’m concerned about, that’s your job and I’m sure you’ll do it.
“I have to be outside that. We are in October. We have to remain calm from the inside in light of this negative situation.
“The message (to the supporters) is that this team have been working like beasts for the last three months and they will get back to winning ways.”
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Lopetegui, though, accepted the manner of the defeat was hard to take, while the loss of Bale and also Karim Benzema to injury was a further blow.
Lopetegui said: “Karim and Gareth had injuries, so we had to make decisions regarding changes. That’s football, that’s the way it goes, and today all the negatives came out.
“This run without key players isn’t normal. It’s also hugely important that we start scoring goals, and we will do that. The coach is always responsible.
“We have the international break now, so we can get back to what we’re doing.”
Ramos offered his backing to the under-fire coach, saying a change in the dug-out would be “ludicrous”.
“As a squad, it is not good when the coach is changed around,” he said on the club website. “It would be ludicrous, this team are fighting for the top spots.
“If people say Real Madrid are dead they are very wrong, we are going to fight to the death because it is our DNA and that is what we are used to doing.”
Saturday’s victory was a first for Alaves over Real Madrid in 18 years.
Alaves coach Abelardo, whose side lie third, level on points at the top of the table with Barcelona and Real, told reporters: “We played a great match. This was down to the merits of a fantastic team.
“Where we are now is a dream, but our fight (for the season) is not over.”
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After their 1-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, the Whites are preparing for their Saturday trip to Alaves in La Liga.
00:40 (+1) – Lopetegui under pressure
Real Madrid have now gone four straight games without a win after their stunning 1-0 loss to Alaves.
That’s likely to make the seat occupied by manager Julen Lopetegui even hotter as the Whites boss is overseeing a side that is lacking at the moment.
Read more on the result here.
19:00 – Ronaldo makes first impression
It didn’t take long for Ronaldo to make his mark at Real Madrid after the Brazilian joined the club and began his legendary stint with the Whites.
On this day back in 2002, Ronaldo scored not once, but twice in his club debut, helping Real Madrid to a 5-2 victory over Alaves.
14:00 – Real Madrid land in Vitoria ahead of Alaves game
Los Blancos have made the short trip north for their game at Alaves, where they will be desperate to rectify a run of three games without victory in all competitions.
As confirmed by Julen Lopetegui earlier in the week, Gareth Bale is part of the travelling squad, as is Sergio Ramos. The full list is below:
11:50 – Vinicius to be unleashed
Teenage Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior has impressed Real Madrid staff sufficiently to get more minutes at Alaves and help break the club’s poor goalscoring run, according to reports.
Real Madrid sank to a shock 1-0 defeat by Alaves on Saturday after a 95th-minute winner from Manu Garcia consigned the European champions to a fourth game without victory.
It is four games without a goal too for Julen Lopetegui’s side, their longest scoring drought since 1985, as Garcia headed home to send the Mendizorrotza Stadium wild.
Alaves fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate their famous win and the chants continued long after the final whistle blew.
For Madrid this was another body blow and to make matters worse, Gareth Bale, their chief forward threat, had hobbled off injured late on. He missed the Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday with a groin strain.
Karim Benzema, out of form and bereft of confidence, was off too after being substituted at half-time but it was Thibaut Courtois at fault for the goal. He came for the cross but failed to claim.
It means Barcelona can go three points clear if they win their game in hand against Valencia on Sunday while Alaves’ excellent start to the season continues. They move up to third, level on points with Real.
Lopetegui had been asked on Friday if he felt under pressure at the club he left Spain for on the eve of the World Cup. Talk of change is perhaps premature but it will certainly increase if Madrid cannot find fluency soon and, in particular, if Barca pull away.
The Clasico at the Camp Nou looms at the end of the month.
Bale had been passed fit to start while Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos returned after being rested against CSKA. Courtois took over from Keylor Navas in goal.
The first half was a fight, full of heavy touches, tussles and collisions but largely vacant of clear-cut chances.
Ramos was at the heart of the battle as he clattered Jonathan Calleri and then elbowed the Alaves striker in the face. The referee deemed it accidental but Calleri clearly did not and responded soon after with a late clip on the defender’s leg.
Bale span in behind, backheeled to Benzema who teed up Dani Ceballos to shoot, before Benzema had a header volleyed off the line by Victor Laguardia.
But Alaves grew into the half and it took Raphael Varane’s diving header to prevent Ibai Gomez from tapping in at the back post.
Benzema was hauled off at half-time and Mariano Diaz instantly looked more dangerous. Only a dangling Laguardia leg ended his weaving run in the penalty area while Real right-back Alvaro Odriozola was slipped in behind but failed to find a team-mate with the pull-back. Lopetegui threw his arms up in frustration.
The rain came down, the whistles grew louder as Madrid dominated possession but Alaves could have won it sooner when Jony sprinted clear, only to drag his finish wide.
Bale went off and another Alaves chance came in injury time. Courtois came for a cross but failed to gather, allowing Garcia to head in a dramatic winner.