Lopetegui backs Bale to fill Ronaldo’s shoes

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui believes Gareth Bale has the ability to help fill the void left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Los Merengues bid the Portuguese star farewell this month as he completed a €112million transfer to Juventus and Lopetegui now has the task of reshaping the team without him.

The Spanish tactician is well aware that Ronaldo is a big loss, but he is looking forward to the challenge and has backed Bale to pick up the slack and drive Real forward.

“When I signed, Cristiano still belonged to Real Madrid but soon he expressed his desire to leave,” Lopetegui told reporters in Miami, where Real will face Manchester United in a friendly on Wednesday.

“As a coach, it is an exciting challenge to make a competitive team without Cristiano.

“[I have] recognition for one of the most important players in the history of Real Madrid, the club appreciated his legacy by facilitating his departure.

“We are convinced that Bale is going to have a great year and we expect a lot from him. We will work together for him to reach top form.”