According to the Guardian, Real Madrid are on the brink of sacking boss Julen Lopetegui and replacing him with former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Los Blancos have been in poor form this season and a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of arch-rivals Barcelona on Sunday is believed to be the final straw for Madrid hierarchy.
A terrible start to life in Madrid
In truth, the circumstances in which Lopetegui took the reins at the European champions were not the best. He was forced to leave his job as the boss of the Spanish national team after news broke that he was set to become the Real Madrid boss broke.
The timing was terrible, as it was just a few days before Spain started their World Cup campaign in Russia. Since then things have not really improved for the former boss of the national side.
The European champions recent form has been terrible. In fact, Los Blancos have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions. They have also suffered four defeats in their last five competitive games, including a humiliating 2-1 home defeat by Levante.
A tough summer to take charge in Madrid
While some may say that Lopetegui was taking over the European champions, in truth whoever took the job this summer was always going to have their work cut out to be successful at the club.
Real Madrid have won the Champions League in the last three seasons. However, in La Liga, Los Blancos struggled last season and eventually finished third place after an unconvincing campaign in La Liga. Towards the end of the campaign, it was clear that their focus was on winning Europe’s elite competition, not their league campaign.
The exit of two high profile figures this summer in boss Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo was also not going to help the next boss. Zidane is a hard act to follow when it comes to winning the big trophies. The Frenchman will go down as a club legend for his achievements, both on and off the pitch.
Ronaldo was Mr Madrid. At times during the last decade, the Portuguese superstar has dragged Los Blancos through games and played a major role in their success in the Champions League in particular.
The 33-year-old is the man for the big moment, the one who bailed the team out when they needed it the most. It is now highly evident that the team are badly missing his influence and now lack a talisman.
None of the other players have stepped up to the plate and as a result, the team have struggled to win games.
Conte the favourite to replace Lopetegui
Real Madrid are currently ninth place in La Liga, trailing arch-rivals Barcelona by seven points. If the reports from many publications are accurate, it is only a matter of time before Lopetegui is shown the exit door at the Bernabeu.
Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is now the overwhelming favourite at odds of 1/7 to be the next man in the Real Madrid hot seat. Some reports even suggest that the Italian could be just hours away from becoming the next Los Blancos boss.
The Italian is a master tactician and would probably have been a wiser appointment than Lopetegui, who has had very little managerial experience at club level.
Conte has managed high-profile clubs like Juventus and Chelsea, so knows what it takes to be a boss at a big club. Lopetegui was on a hiding to nothing as soon as he took the Real Madrid job.
No doubt the former Spain boss will return to football management if as expected he is sacked. However, maybe he will have learned something from his time in Madrid and the whole debacle with the Spanish national side and make wiser decision in the future.
Has Julen Lopetegui reached the end of the road as Real Madrid boss?
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