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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Julen Lopetegui 'loves' Real Madrid squad despite no Cristiano Ronaldo replacement

European and world champions face Getafe in their first Primera Liga match of the season on Sunday 

Julen Lopetegui addresses the media ahead of Real Madrid's Primera Liga match against Getafe. EPA
Julen Lopetegui addresses the media ahead of Real Madrid's Primera Liga match against Getafe. EPA

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has said he is more than happy with the squad at his disposal as the European champions prepare for their first Primera Liga game of the season against Getafe on Sunday.

Madrid, who won an unprecedented third successive Uefa Champions League title in May, are entering a new era this season. Gone is Zinedine Zidane, the manager who led the side to their European and world success, to be replaced by former Spain manager Lopetegui.

Soon after Lopetegui's arrival, Madrid's all-time record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo departed the club after nine years, sealing a €105 million (Dh441.6m) move to Italian champions Juventus.

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Read more:

Andy Mitten: Real Madrid need to race out of the blocks as they face up to life without Ronaldo

Andy Mitten: New faces and renewed focus as Barcelona set sights on Champions League

Julen Lopetegui: Real Madrid have to improve if they are to challenge for La Liga title

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Madrid are yet to replace the prolific Portuguese forward, and their only new arrivals so far have been right-back Alvaro Odriozola, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and 18-year-old Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr.

Additionally, squad players Theo Hernandez and Mateo Kovacic have been loaned out to Real Sociedad and Chelsea respectively.

However, Lopetegui has no concerns over the state of his squad heading into the domestic season opener when Madrid host Getafe at the Bernabeu.

"Right now we're focusing on getting the best out of the squad we have which is a squad we love, we have a lot of talent and we're going to work with it," Lopetegui told a news conference on Saturday.

"We like the players we have and I have no doubts about the squad I have. Our players have a fantastic attitude, and people are going to see a Madrid side with a lot of talent. The important players are the ones that are here, not the ones that are not."

Lopetegui said the main thing on his mind was getting off to a strong start in the league as Madrid look to compensate for their disappointing last campaign, when they finished 17 points behind champions Barcelona and below Atletico Madrid.

Madrid have already started the season on the backfoot by losing 4-2 to Atletico in the Uefa Super Cup on Wednesday.

"We have to focus on our games right now because the three points tomorrow are worth the same as all the other games, so we have to realise the season is starting now," said the former Spain manager, who faces a daunting task following Zidane's trophy-laden two-and-a-half-year tenure.

"I'm really impressed with the enthusiasm the players have to revindicate themselves and with the talent they have.

"We want to win this league title, it's the competition which examines your work every day. My biggest concern is to make sure we are capable of competing."

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