Lopetegui: No problem with Courtois' footwork

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has dismissed questions regarding Thibaut Courtois' footwork following their 1-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday.

Courtois started in goal ahead of Keylor Navas and kept a clean sheet without being severely tested. However, media critics have highlighted his apparent discomfort when playing with the ball at his feet.

"He has conditions to be able to do it, he does it and surely he will improve more," Lopetegui told a news conference.

"I would not dwell on a problem that does not exist. He has a good command of the ball, a good kick.

"When a start does not work out sometimes it's not the goalkeeper's fault."

It was not the most comfortable of returns to league action for Los Blancos, who looked a far cry from the side which thumped AS Roma 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek. However, Lopetegui stressed that Real Madrid got what they wanted from their clash against Espanyol.

"They are two different competitions. The league has complex matches and this was one of them," the former Spain coach added. "It's what the league has. We knew it.

"The most positive thing is that the team has taken the three points, has known how to suffer, you also have to do it to win a league. The main reading is that we have known how to suffer because we also have not been able to close it.

"Espanyol closed us down, but also knew how to attack. But what has hurt us the most is losing control. The team have made a great effort and has achieved three very important points."

Los Blancos go top in La Liga

Real Madrid maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-0 victory over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday taking them top of the table.

  • Real Madrid 1 Espanyol 0
  • Perez (35') denied by Courtois on the counter
  • Asensio (41') opens scoring with clinical strike
  • Lopez keeps out Modric and Ramos
  • Iglesias (65') hits the crossbar with chip

Match summary

Marco Asensio's first-half goal was all that separated the two teams on the night, as Julen Lopetegui's side battled to create many clear-cut chances against the hard-working Periquitos.

Full report

Espanyol defended extremely well in the first half to limit Real Madrid's chances in the Spanish capital, while going close themselves on a couple of occasions.

The hosts threatened for the first time after just five minutes when Isco connected with Alvaro Odriozola's cutback from the right, but directed his first-time shot narrowly wide of the right post from 14 yards out.

A counter-attack from the Catalan outfit on 14 minutes led to an opening for Pablo Piatti, who dragged his shot wide of the far post from 18 yards out after being played in on the left by Hernan Perez.

Didac Vila was allowed to carry the ball a long way down the left channel on the half-hour mark before drilling an effort wide of the right post from 25 yards out, while at the other end Casemiro saw his long-range strike deflected wide of the right post three minutes later and headed wide at the back post from the resulting corner.

The visitors broke upfield again on 35 minutes and Perez tested Thibaut Courtois with a low shot from 17 yards out after cutting onto his left foot, but Los Blancos finally breached their defence four minutes before half-time.

Luka Modric's ball into the area deflected off two defenders into the path of Asensio, who fired a left-footed shot into the bottom-right corner of the net from 10 yards out. The offside flag initially went up, but the goal was given after VAR intervened.

The first half came to a close with Nacho glancing a header wide of the right post from a free-kick on the left in added time.

Diego Lopez was quickly called into action in the second half as he parried Modric's left-footed shot behind in the 48th minute, before a 20-yard curler from Isco on the left went just wide of the far post moments later.

A mistake from Sergio Ramos let in Borja Iglesias on 65 minutes after he kicked the ball straight into the striker, whose chip from the edge of the box came back off the crossbar with Courtois beaten.

Lopez then pulled off a fantastic save to tip Ramos' header over the bar on 73 minutes from Isco's fine cross on the left and Lucas Vazquez's strike from 19 yards out was easier for the visiting keeper to deal with two minutes later.

Marcos Llorente could only fire straight at Lopez from 15 yards out after being played into space on the right by fellow substitute Mariano seven minutes from time, and the home fans endured a nervy finish as Espanyol applied late pressure.

Perez: We granted Ronaldo his wish

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez says Los Blancos allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to join Juventus because the Portugal captain wanted to leave.

Perez described the Portuguese superstar as the club's second greatest player after Alfredo Di Stefano and also stated that the Santiago Bernabeu will always be his home.

The 33-year old left Madrid for the Old Lady of Turin in a big money move in the off season, to end a successful nine-year spell with the Spanish giants.

"The release clauses that Real Madrid set for our players are to be dissuading," Perez told club delegates, as reported by OK Diario.

"The most profitable sale this year was that of Cristiano. He wanted to leave for personal reasons, and when everyone is converging on one solution you come to an agreement.

"No-one offered Real Madrid more than Juventus' €100m. We can't do anything but thank Ronaldo for all he did with this shirt.

"He's the best ever after (Alfredo) Di Stefano and this will always be his home."

Calleja bemoans lack of killer instinct

Villarreal manager Javi Calleja was left lamenting dropped points as his side drew 2-2 with Rangers in the Europa League on Thursday.

Carlos Bacca gave the Spanish side the perfect start when he netted in the first minute.

Scott Arfield pulled a goal back at Estadio de la Ceramica on 67 minutes and while Gerard Moreno restored Villarreal's lead just two minutes later, a Kyle Lafferty strike with 76 played, ensured the teams shared the spoils.

After the game, Calleja told the club's official website: "It's a point that doesn't feel like much. We started very well, but we didn't manage to go two goals up which would have let us relax more.

"We didn't know how to kill the game off."

The manager added: "We have to learn from this match. We can’t let these games pass us by. We should have won the three points. It wasn’t down to overconfidence.

"We needed to sentence the match and as we didn't do that Rangers were able to equalise with two plays where we should have defended better."

Calleja was remaining positive though, saying: "It’s the first match and we still depend on ourselves. There’s a lot left to play in this season’s UEFA Europa League."

Up next for Villarreal is a clash with Valencia at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

"Regarding Sunday's match against Valencia we will look to pick up the first three points at our stadium," Calleja concluded: "We're going back to the league after winning at Leganes and now it's time to do that at home."

Coutinho was 'very anxious' about Champions League debut

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho admits he felt pre-match nerves ahead of the Catalans' UEFA Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi was the star of the show at Camp Nou as he bagged another hat-trick to lead the hosts to a comfortable 4-0 victory over their Group B competitors.

Despite the one-sided game, Coutinho revealed that he was feeling nervous about making his Champions League debut for the Spanish giants in front of Barca's home supporters.

"Making my Champions League debut was a unique feeling," the former Liverpool star told the press.

"I was very anxious before the game. Last year I couldn't play in this competition and I hope that as time goes by I can improve and help the team."

"I hope we can fight for all of the titles and lots of big things," he added.

"Everything has just begun but we have big objectives and hope to win important things. I hope to help the team every way I can.

"The fans and all the players really want to win. The match against PSV was special, like all games in the Champions League, and also because it was in front of our fans it was a fantastic feeling."

Barcelona v Girona

Early La Liga pacesetters Barcelona will look to continue their fine run of form when they host Girona at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Lionel Messi is back to his best after a frustrating World Cup campaign with Argentina, and after four goals in his opening four league matches, he netted a stunning hat-trick against PSV Eindhoven in midweek.

Barca head into this game riding high after six wins from six competitive fixtures this season. Their coach, Ernesto Valverde, heaped praise on Messi after his hat-trick against PSV. "Messi does extraordinary things and makes them routine," he said, according to his club's official website.

Come Sunday, Valverde will be up against former Barcelona player Eusebio Sacristan, now in charge of Girona. With seven points from four league matches to date, Sacristan's side has got the season off to an impressive start.

"We are now in a good situation, in terms of points, the atmosphere in the squad, the consistency, the strength," the coach said, as quoted by Football Espana.

"Now we move to a play a very complicated match, at Barcelona, where it is very difficult to score, but this has to give us strength and motivation."

Cristhian Stuani is the in-form man for Girona, having scored three goals in their last two games. For all their riches in attack, Barcelona will have to be well-guarded at the back to nullify his threat.

Malcom and Sergi Samper are reportedly carrying injuries for Barcelona, as are Anthony Lozano, Carles Planas, Jonas Ramalho and Johan Mojica for their opponents.

The last time these sides met, Barca won 6-1, with Luis Suarez netting a hat-trick, Lionel Messi bagging a brace and Philippe Coutinho also scoring. This after Portu gave Girona a shock lead early on.

Barca head into the game as heavy favourites once again, but Girona will be looking to take advantage of any heavy legs in the side after their first European clash of the season.

Real Madrid v Espanyol

Having drawn to Athletic Bilbao in their last league match, Real Madrid will look to return to winning ways against Espanyol on Saturday.

Los Blancos have started life under Julen Lopetegui reasonably well, with the 1-1 draw to Athletic the only blemish since the league season began. They bounced back from that well in midweek, beating Roma 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League.

"We did well, in defence and in attack. In football we know that if we don't take our chances we may pay for it. In the first half we had a lot and we lacked accuracy, but in the second we were accurate and we deserved the three points," said Lopetegui after the victory over last season's Champions League semifinalists, as quoted by Sport.

Espanyol have got off to a good start themselves this season and sit fourth on the table after two wins, a draw and a defeat. Their last match saw them claim a 1-0 victory over Levante on Sunday.

"We want to entertain our fans and our ambition means there's no position in the table we're prepared to settle for," said their coach, Rubi, ahead of the new season. So far, the Catalan side appears to be living living up to his words.

Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have been banging in the goals for Real Madrid this season, with seven between them in their opening four league matches. The in-form pair will be looking to torment Espanyol's defence come Saturday.

However, another player who has made his case for selection is Mariano Diaz, who scored off the bench against Roma and will hope to be rewarded with a starting berth.

Meanwhile, Espanyol midfielder Esteban Granero will be looking to impress on his return to the Bernabeu. The former Real Madrid man has been in good form this season, pulling the strings from the middle of the park and chipping in with a goal against Valencia.

Lopetegui may opt to rotate his squad at the end of a gruelling week, although he does not appear to have any injury concerns at this stage.

Espanyol might be without injured centre-back David Lopez. Furthermore, Oscar Duarte and Javi Puado are reportedly carrying knee injuries.

Monchi pays no attention to Barca rumours

Roma sporting director Monchi has poured cold water on 'nonsensical' speculation that Barcelona are set to bring him back to Spain.

The 49-year-old left his homeland in 2017 to take up a post at Stadio Olimpico after spending his entire career with Sevilla, first as a player before moving to an upstairs role.

Los Rojiblancos won 11 trophies during Monchi's tenure as director of football, including three successive Europa League titles, and he continues to be linked with Europe's elite clubs.

The Spaniard is a reported target for Barca, while Manchester United are also looking to secure his services, but he remains committed to the Giallorossi.

"I'm not thinking of going back because I'm happy where I am," Monchi told Cadena COPE. "I don't pay attention to things that don't make sense, like an offer from Barca.

"I am about the present. I don't worry about anything other than the day to day and I still have years left on my contract with Roma."

Simeone hails 'decisive' Griezmann

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone was full of praise for striker Antoine Griezmann after the Spanish side's 2-1 comeback win over AS Monaco on Tuesday.

Monaco hosted Atleti in the opening Group A game of their UEFA Champions League campaign and took the lead in the 18th minute as Samuel Grandsir found the back of the net.

However, Simeone's charges levelled matters in the 31st minute as Griezmann set up Diego Costa, before Jose Gimenez scored the winner for the traveling team.

Simeone singled out Griezmann after the game and praised the Frenchman's industry, especially in combination with combative forward Costa.

"Griezmann is growing match after match," Simeone told reporters. "We came from a big effort against Eibar.

"Today we started at a disadvantage and he [Griezmann] appeared at important moments and in places where he harms.

"He's decisive. The combinations with Costa were destabilising. [They had a] great game."

Valverde: Messi makes the exceptional seem routine

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has praised star forward Lionel Messi after the Argentine scored a hat-trick against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night.

The Catalans hosted the Eredivisie champions at Camp Nou for the opening Group B game of their UEFA Champions League campaign. They struggled to break PSV down initially, but Messi broke the deadlock in the 31st minute.

Ousmane Dembele doubled the lead in the 74th minute before Messi scored two more goals to complete his hat-trick and cap off a 4-0 victory for the Blaugrana.

"He does extraordinary things and makes them seem routine," Valverde told the post-match press conference when asked about Messi.

"Today it was three goals, and he unlocked the match with his freekick.

"The strike was masterful and he simply doesn't tire of scoring hat-tricks."

He added: "They played well on the counter attack and we knew it would be difficult to get the first goal.After the second goal we were calmer and found things easier, it's always difficult to open teams up at first."

Alves: Real Madrid 'more of a team' without Ronaldo

Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves reckons Real Madrid will benefit from Cristiano Ronaldo's departure and focus more on working as a team.

Ronaldo left Los Blancos in a €112million transfer to Serie A champions Juventus in July, but Alves doesn't think Real will be worse off without the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I think that, contrary to what everybody thinks, Madrid is more of a team without Cristiano," he told Marca.

"Now it's a bit more difficult than it was before - before it was complicated but focused a lot on Cristiano, and now it's a bit more dangerous, at least [in terms of] how I see football and my concept of this game."

Alves was part of the Juventus side that lost to Madrid in the 2017 UEFA Champions League final, before signing for the Parisians.

He added: "It's not going to be so easy to beat Madrid, they are more of a team now. It's obvious that Cristiano is a brutal loss for Madrid, but Madrid are Madrid."

PSG will face Liverpool at Anfield in their opening Champions League Group C clash on Tuesday night.

Van Bommel: PSV won't change system for Barca clash

PSV Eindhoven manager Mark van Bommel has revealed that he will not change the way his team plays to adapt to the offensive power of Barcelona.

The defending Eredivisie champions are at the top of the standings after winning five consecutive games to get their domestic campaign underway, and Van Bommel is hoping to use that momentum against the Catalans on Tuesday.

PSV are in Spain to take on Ernesto Valverde's charges at Camp Nou for the opening game of their UEFA Champions League campaign.

"It is already very difficult to sharpen a way of playing in such a short time. We have only been working on it for three months. I can overthrow my whole system and you might very well get another result, but for the long term, I do not believe in it," Van Bommel told the press when asked if he would be more defensive against Barca.

"We have prepared well, viewed the images and provided the players with information. But they (Barcelona) still have a lot of good players and a lot of weapons. They do not have to be in great form to be able to play well anyway."

Griezmann eyes Champions League trophy

Antoine Griezmann is eager for Champions League success despite Atletico Madrid's shaky start to the new season.

Diego Simeone's side have won just one league match, drawing two and losing one, to sit in ninth place on the standings.

While they next face fifth-place Getafe in La Liga action at the weekend, up next for Griezmann and Co. is a trip to the Stade Louis II to face Monaco in the Champions League.

Griezmann helped Atletico win the Europa League last season, with two goals in a 3-0 final victory over Marseille, with the club having been twice losing Champions League finalists, in 2014 and 2016.

The Frenchman was also a significant part of his nation's 2018 World Cup success but is now eyeing his first European winners medal.

Speaking to AS, he said: "When I see the Champions League trophy, I think, 'The next one's mine'. We didn't have a good campaign last season.

"In European football you know that any team can make life difficult for you. I wasn't at my best, and that didn't help the team.

"It's not so much that I'm any more determined; it's more a case of having more confidence in myself.

"Last year, I wasn't myself in the Champions League. But this year I feel great."

He added: "The final is at the Wanda Metropolitano and that means every home game will be an incredible occasion."

Bartomeu: Messi thriving as captain

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club's captaincy has had a positive effect on Lionel Messi.

The Argentine maestro took up the role following Andres Iniesta's exit from Camp Nou.

Barca have, so far this season, stormed to the top of the Primera Division standings, with maximum points from their opening four games.

Up next for the Catalan side is a Champions League clash with Eredivisie winners PSV Eindhoven.

Ahead of the clash, Bartomeu spoke of a change of mind set for Messi, who has scored four times already this season.

He told Onda Cero: "Messi is very happy here. He is delighted and excited about continuing to triumph at Barcelona.

"Messi has made a change, he has decided to take on the captaincy and assume that responsibility in the team."

Regarding the proposal to play some La Liga matches in the United States, Bartomeu added: "La Liga proposed that we play a match abroad and it seemed a good idea. We have the obligation to promote the league.

"You have to get closer to the fans and find new streams of income. Playing a match abroad would help us.

"If it can be played, we'll do it. The club captains have been informed."

Coutinho: I'm not even close to Iniesta's level yet

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho says he has a long way to go if he intends to reach the level of Catalan legend Andres Iniesta.

Coutinho signed for the Spanish champions from Liverpool in January and some have already drawn comparisons between the Brazilian and former Barca midfielder Iniesta.

However, Coutinho has made it clear that the comparison is premature and that he needs to work hard to improve his game before being spoken of in the same breath as Iniesta, who left the club at the end of last season.

"Andres was a genius, comparisons between us are tough," Coutinho told a news conference. "I just want to be myself and win as much as I can here.

"I try to work hard regardless of my position and I work hard on every aspect of my game, I feel more of an attacking midfielder and I am comfortable on the left as this is where I've played the most.

"My goal is to improve at everything and if I want to be like Andres Iniesta I have to improve a lot.

"My first job is to make plays in the midfield, in the middle it's more difficult as I have to hold on to the ball and help my team-mates.

"In attack I can contribute to more goals, but I will do whatever job the coach asks me to do."

Iniesta won nine La Liga titles with Barcelona and helped them clinch four UEFA Champions League crowns.

Bale: Real's teamwork is better post-Ronaldo

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has revealed that the mood among the players is more laid back now that Cristiano Ronaldo has left for Juventus.

Bale has had to shoulder more of the responsibility in the final third of the pitch in the wake of Ronaldo's move to the Bianconeri in the off-season, but also says he feels more relaxed.

The Wales international believes Los Blancos are also working together more cohesively as a unit due to Ronaldo's departure, with individual talent taking a backseat.

"Obviously it's going to be a little different from having such a big player there," Bale told the Daily Mail.

"It's maybe a bit more relaxed, yes. I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player."

Bale has scored three goals and provided two assists in four La Liga games thus far.

Lopetegui and Ramos unhappy with draw despite comeback

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui and captain Sergio Ramos revealed their disappointment after Los Blancos' 1-1 draw with Athletic Club at San Mames.

Iker Muniain put the hosts ahead just beyond the half-hour mark, but Isco equalised 63 minutes in to preserve a point for Real Madrid. Nevertheless, they now trail defending champions Barcelona by two points at the top of La Liga.

"It's a very difficult place to come," Lopetegui admitted to Movistar Partidazo.

"Athletic are a team that comes to look for you, that presses you. In the second half we improved.

"Madrid never consider a draw to be good, we performed in the second half and we have to keep working."

Ramos echoed his coach's words, telling Movistar: "We must always give the maximum for this club.

"We do not consider the draw as good, it is never good when you draw. There is a lot to improve.

"We knew it is one of the most difficult stadiums away from home, people push, but regardless of that, Athletic are a team that knows very well what they play.

"It is difficult to reach them and generate chances, then in the second half we overcame the pressure and got a result."

Real drop points at Bilbao

Isco came off the bench to rescue a point for Real Madrid as they drew 1-1 with Athletic Club in La Liga on Saturday.

  • Athletic Club 1 Real Madrid 1
  • Muniain on target on 32'
  • Isco levels on 63'

Match summary

Real created numerous chances but could not score, until Isco took his first opportunity, but it wasn't enough as Bilbao were on the scoresheet first through Iker Muniain.

Full report

It took just two minutes for Real to create their first chance, but Luka Modric's shot only deflected out for a corner after Asensio had flicked a Gareth Ball ball into the Croatian's path.

Marcelo was wide with an ambitious 30 yard effort while Bale was crowded out on the left as he looked to create a scoring opportunity for Karim Benzema.

Bilbao's time on the ball was limited and they looked to attack quickly on the break but Sergio Ramos was equal a ball over the top intended for Inaki Williams.

The same player then fired just wide as the home side tried to wrestle back this tie.

Susaeta was next with a half chance for Bilbao that had Thibaut Courtois scrambling as Benzema fired over at the other end.

Courtois kept out a full-back Yuri Berchiche ahead of an important 30th minute save from Unai Simon from Asensio that was headed to the top corner of the net - as almost immediately, Bilbao stole a lead.

Susaeta did well to dribble into the Madrid box and fire across the face of goal, with the ball bundled over the line by Williams and then Iker Muniain, who got the last touch.

Dani Garcia thought he had a second for the home side as he connected to a 36th minute free-kick but he was offside as he slotted the ball past Courtois.

With the first-half winding down, Simon did brilliantly to get down to turn away a goal-bound shot from Modric.

Trailing by a goal at the break, Julen Lopetegui replaced Dani Ceballos for Casemiro to allow to push forward, but it was Bilbao with the first second-half chance, as Williams blasted just wide from the edge of the area.

Bale then fired over from a Benzema knockdown, ahead of an enforced substitution that saw the injured Muniain replaced by Ander Capa.

Bale's frustrating night of near-misses continued from a 59th minute free-kick that was saved by Simon, who then did well to deny Ramos on the rebound.

The Welshman was no closer a few minutes later - but second-half substitute Isco, only a minute earlier on for Modric, did find the target, to draw Real level, with 63 minutes on the clock.

Bale combined well with Toni Kroos to set up Isco, who effortlessly headed home Bale's delivery from close range.

Sensing more goals to come, Real upped the tempo but Asensio couldn't beat a spread Simon having been played in on goal, while Benzema skied the rebound.

Williams was similarly off target at the other end with the match clock ticking away, leaving the away side to become increasingly nervous.

Ramos couldn't effect the result from a 73rd minute free-kick, and try as they might, it just wouldn't fall to Real, who as a result of this loss, dropped points for the first time this season.

Barcelona fight back to beat stubborn Sociedad

Barcelona maintained their impressive start to the new season after coming from a goal down to beat Real Sociedad at the Anoeta Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

  • Real Sociedad 1 Barcelona 2
  • Elustondo (13') puts Sociedad ahead
  • Suarez (64') nets the equaliser
  • Dembele (66') scores the winner

Match summary

The home side grabbed the lead in the 14th minute through Arits Elustondo, but Barcelona were able to come back late in the second half courtesy of goals from Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Full report

Sociedad were very brave in the first half and took the game to Ernesto Velverde's side, who came into the match on the back of three wins in a row in the new season.

The first half was very frustrating from Lionel Messi, who had very few opportunities to get in good goalscoring areas.

Sociedad grabbed the lead in the 13th minute as central defender Elustondo smashed the ball past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after Barcelona failed to clear the lines from a free-kick that caused problems inside their box.

The home side squandered a number of opportunities to increase their lead while Ter Stegen was also outstanding in goals for Barcelona.

Gerald Pique had the best two chances for Barcelona towards the half-time break as Sociedad continued to give them problems going to the half-time break.

The lanky defender headed wide with his first effort on the 40th minute and came close again towards the half-time break.

In the second half, Barcelona manager Velverde responded by introducing Philippe Coutinho and Sergio Bouquets, after they were both dropped to the bench for the match.

It would be the home side that would get the best chances early in the second half though, but Ter Stegen once again made two good saves to deny Mikel Oyarzabal and Ruben Pardo.

And those misses would prove to be costly as Suarez found a timely equaliser with 64 minutes on the clock, and Dembele finding the all-important winner just two minutes later.

Sociedad came close to an equaliser in the 87th minute as Juanmi missed another great opportunity from close range.

Barcelona though bossed the dying minutes of the game to claim their fourth win in a row from the opening matches of the new La Liga season.

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid

Athletic Bilbao will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season when they take on Real Madrid in La Liga on Saturday.

Los Leones got their league campaign underway with a 2-1 win over Leganes before a 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Huesca. Both games were played at home. They were scheduled to play Rayo Vallecano on September 1, but the clash was postponed.

With only two matches behind them, Eduardo Berizzo's side are sitting in 12th position with four points from a possible six. A victory could see them climb up to third.

Meanwhile, Julen Lopetegui's charges are level on points with arch-rivals Barcelona, after winning all three of their opening fixtures. They beat Getafe 2-0, Girona 4-1 and Leganes 4-1 prior to the international break.

Los Blancos will be determined to keep the wins going as they aim to dethrone Barca as Spanish champions. The Catalans only lost one game last season, which means the margin for error could again be very small indeed for Real.

With Keylor Navas and Thibaut Courtois battling it out for the number one spot in goal, Lopetegui also has a tough call to make when it comes to team selection.

Speaking to Cadena SER, Lopetegui said: "It's clear that I have excellent [goalkeeping] solutions. [Courtois and Navas will] Take the decision we make, it's not a problem. We will see it.

"We have an idea in our heads that we will not make public. We will see where it takes us."

Bilbao are likely to welcome back veteran striker Aritz Aduriz after he recovered from a muscular injury.

Real have no serious injury concerns and should be at full strength for the trip to San Mames.