The under-fire coach has put on a brave face for the press, but an immediate drastic improvement in form is required if he is to keep his job
On Saturday, after losing late on to Deportivo Alaves at Estadio de Mendizorroza, Sergio Ramos sought to lessen the inevitable cacophony of crisis claims surrounding a Real Madrid side who are now without a win – or even a goal – in four games across all competitions.
The Blancos' captain put to the press that the club were only three points off the top spot, meaning he assumed Barcelona would seal all three points on Sunday against Valencia. An oddly assured comment coming from one of the Blaugrana's biggest historical rivals.
Barca themselves, however, are now without a win in four Liga matches, having drawn at Mestalla, meaning Sevilla were allowed to climb to the top of the table as Madrid slipped down to fourth, one point behind their cross-town nemeses Atletico.
Ramos, of course, as Real's captain, could be forgiven for trying to find positives by highlighting the minimal point gap in his post-match platitudes, but the truth is that the feeling at the Santiago Bernabeu is anything but positive – even with Barcelona's dip in form taking the edge off.
Julen Lopetegui is putting on a brave face too, claiming that Madrid's 'objectives remain intact in Spain and Europe', but an inside source at the club revealed to Goal that the mood is far from calm in the Blancos camp.
“We are letting La Liga slip away,” the source said, “We have to improve a lot.”
Lopetegui's citing of statistics, injuries and misfortunes that have befallen Madrid does little to explain the goal drought and lack of victories in the last four matches. Indeed, the Spanish capital side have not failed to score in four consecutive games since 1985.
A resounding crash in form since the 3-0 Champions League victory over Roma and breaking negative records set more than three decades ago has put the former Spain boss' future into doubt.
It's also worth remembering that the 52-year-old started his competitive tenure with a disappointing defeat to Atleti in the UEFA Super Cup.
Meanwhile, the players have positioned themselves on Lopetegui's side, publicly giving him their support. Raphael Varane said that they are 'delighted' with their coach, and Ramos himself said it would be 'madness' to give him the sack.
In addition, Isco, Nacho and Toni Kroos have all taken to social media to voice their belief that they can turn around their poor form. What else can they do if their wish is for the boss to remain in charge?
Their only real option, however, is radically improved results results with immediate effect. There are big games coming up and El Clasico is just around the corner – October 28, to be precise.
It's a date that is marked in red in the calendars of all Madridistas. Especially Lopetegui's bosses.
-- Courtesy of BBC Sport