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.”
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) October 6, 2018
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.”
Know more about Sport360 Application