Lopetegui warns Messi: Don't underestimate Ronaldo-less Real Madrid!

The Barcelona star believes the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo has heavily weakened the European champions, but was told not to doubt their strength

Julen Lopetegui warned not to doubt Real Madrid's players after Lionel Messi claimed Juventus are one of the clear favourites to win the Champions League following Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Turin.

Ronaldo left Madrid for Juve in July, ending his battle with Messi on the domestic stage at least.

Though Madrid lost the UEFA Super Cup to neighbours Atletico, Los Blancos have made a superb start to life under former Spain coach Lopetegui, taking nine points from their first three games in La Liga.

Juve have done the same in Serie A and are already two points clear at the top.

Ronaldo has yet to find the net for the Bianconeri, but Messi said this week that "it's evident that the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo makes [Real Madrid] less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League".

Responding to those remarks, Lopetegui said to Onda Cero : "I would not doubt the players of Real Madrid.

"We have done okay but it is only the start and we have three weeks ahead with the Champions League.

"We have achieved the aim of nine points and now we need to reflect. The players need to come back fit and we will see what happens.

"Our target is everything this season. With the league you have to always be on form and it rewards consistency but we want to win everything."

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On Ronaldo's departure, Lopetegui added: "I did not speak to him, it was a situation where he had already decided to leave and the club went along with this for a player who had been tremendous. They allowed this desire and restlessness that he had.

"I expressed from the start [the players I wanted]. I thought the squad was fantastic, the players are very good in all areas of the pitch and are capable to compete for titles."


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