Lopetegui backs Real stars

04 September 2018 06:51:33 EST

Julen Lopetegui says it would be foolish to write his Real Madrid players off so early in the season.

The 52-year-old was appointed as the new coach at The Bernabeu in June, a move that cost him the chance to lead Spain at the World Cup 2018.

After winning a third Champions League title in three years, Los Blancos saw both boss Zinedine Zidane and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo depart.

Although Thibaut Courtois signed from Chelsea, the board failed to sign any other big names, with Lopetegui's brief believed to be to reinvigorate his squad with young players after seeing some of the club's more experienced stars depart.

It would be a mistake to doubt these Real Madrid players.

Julen Lopetegui

Despite losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, Real have opened their La Liga campaign with three victories, outclassing Getafe, Girona and Leganes.

The coach faces arguably his toughest test on the weekend after the international break, when he takes his side to his home region of the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao.

Real are 8/15 to win at San Mames, with the draw 16/5 and Los Leones 5/1.

With their lack of transfer action, the European champions have been written off in some quarters but Lopetegui feels this is foolish.

The former Spain goalkeeper says the attitude of his players has given him plenty of encouragement and is confident they can claim yet more silverware this season.

"It would be a mistake to doubt these Real Madrid players," Lopetegui told Onda Cero. "I love this group of players and the work they have done since I have come in is absolutely fantastic, I could not ask for more."

Real are 4/1 to win La Liga and 10/1 to defend their Champions League crown.

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