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'I'm not going to die' - Under-pressure Lopetegui plays down Clasico clash with Barcelona

7:17 PM GMT+4 27/10/2018
Lopetegui - cropped
The Madrid boss was not interested in speculation regarding his future ahead of Sunday's El Clasico

Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui played down the significance of Sunday's Clasico on his own future, insisting "I don't think I will die" irrespective of the result.

Reports in Madrid suggest Lopetegui's short reign at the Santiago Bernabeu will end next week regardless of how they perform at Barcelona, but the former Spain boss was understandably more interested in talking about the game itself than his current job security.

Asked if the game with Ernesto Valverde's men was 'do or die' for him, Lopetegui replied: "I don't think I am going to die. Everyone has a certain amount of energy, mine is focused on the team. That's the job.

"I focus on my work as a coach, that is what I can do to improve my team.

"What you [the media] say does not help me win or improve my team, we are trying to improve the efficiency in both defence and attack and preparing for a very demanding match."

Madrid head into the weekend in seventh place in La Liga, four points behind their table-topping arch-rivals, but Lopetegui insists it is not all doom and gloom.

"Ours is not an irreversible situation, we are in October," he added. "We have played some good games this season but perhaps the results haven't always gone our way.

"You [the media] see the game one way and we see it another."

Barcelona will be without Lionel Messi after the Argentina superstar broke a bone in his arm against Sevilla last weekend, but that doesn't necessarily make Madrid's task easier, according to Lopetegui.

"We will focus on ourselves, we know what we have in front of us," he said.

"When you have to defend you have to defend well. You have to be at the top of your game and play your best.

"I don't think it matters if there's a player there or not, we're up against a good team."

Lopetegui confirmed Marcelo is available, as is Isco, with Dani Carvajal Madrid's only major absentee.