MADRID: President Florentino Perez summoned coach Julen Lopetegui and captain Sergio Ramos for crisis talks after the world and European champions lost 2-1 at home to modest Levante in the Spanish league.
Goals from Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti inside the opening quarter of an hour inflicted a third straight defeat for Madrid for whom Marcelo pulled one back – only after Real had surpassed their previous highest benchmark of 465 minutes without scoring.
Pressure thus ramped up on Lopetegui ahead of next week’s El Clasico at Barcelona. The former Spain coach’s future was already being talked about following losses to CSKA Moscow and Alaves before the international break, while they are now winless in five.
All that is saving Lopetegui is timing: sacking a coach at the start of a week featuring a Champions League tie and then the season’s first clash with Barcelona would be an added problem. Also, Madrid do not have a ready-made stand-in as when Zinedine Zidane stepped up from assistant to succeed Rafa Benitez.
Definitely out of El Clasico is Leo Messi who broke his right arm in the 4-2 win over Sevilla which took Barcelona top of the table.
Maro Asensio had a goal ruled out by VAR. Gareth Bale was brought on for Alvaro Odriozola at the beginning of the second half while Luka Modric went close to halving the deficit but Olazabal palmed away after the Croatian had jinked his way into box and got a shot away.