Last chance for Lopetegui as Real Madrid take on Plzen
Madrid : Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui steps into the last chance saloon when his side takes on Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.
Lopetegui will take his seat in the Madrid dugout after having survived Real Madrid's home defeat to Levante on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Many thought that defeat would have cost the coach his job by the end of the weekend. Although he has made it through to Monday, his future is still in doubt after Madrid dropped to seventh in the Spanish La Liga.
Most commentators expect the former Spain boss to be sacked if Madrid don't win away to FC Barcelona next Sunday, but failure to win on Tuesday will bring that sacking forward.
A poll taken in sports paper 'Diaro AS' after Saturday's defeat showed most fans blame Real Madrid President, Florentino Perez, rather than Lopetegui for the club's plight, but that will do little to strengthen the coach's position.
It says much about how confident most are that Lopetegui won't survive past next weekend that the Spanish sports media are not speculating on whether or not he will keep his job, but about who will replace him, with Real Madrid B-team coach Santiago Solari, former player Guti Hernandez and former Juventus and Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte thought to be the front runners.
Lopetegui will almost certainly bring Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema back into his starting 11 after they began Saturday's game on the subs' bench, while Dani Ceballos also has a chance of coming into the side.
He is also likely to maintain his policy of playing Keylor Navas in Europe, with the Costa Rican replacing Thibaut Courtois in goal for Real Madrid against the Czech side, who have just one point from their two group games so far, having drawn 2-2 at home to CSKA Moscow and losing their last game 0-5 away to Roma.
Real Madrid's 0-1 defeat to CSKA Moscow means they can't afford to drop points against the weakest side in their group, but with just one goal in their last five matches, Lopetegui doesn't need to win, he needs to win and to convince and then he needs to win again at the weekend.