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Lopetegui Continues To Talk Up Gareth Bale

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui praised Gareth Bale and is confident the Welsh forward will fill the void left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

Prolific striker Ronaldo moved to Juventus in July and Madrid have not signed a replacement, with the onus on Bale to become the team’s key figure after he struck twice in the Champions League final win over Liverpool.

‘We love that (Bale) is with us. He is so motivated with a lot of hope and he’s been working well since the beginning of the season,’ Lopetegui told reporters on the eve of Real’s UEFA Super Cup showdown with Europa League holders and city rivals Atletico Madrid in Tallinn.

‘We’re delighted with his attitude and his desire, he’s an ultra professional who is training with the desire of a youth teamer. We are convinced he will have a great season.’

Lopetegui said he had already decided whether new signing Thibaut Courtois or stalwart Keylor Navas would start in goal on Wednesday but he declined to reveal his plans.

The former Spain coach will be in charge of Madrid for the first time in an official match. Zinedine Zidane quit at the end of last season after securing his third successive Champions League triumph.

‘Zidane did extraordinary work with incredible success but that is the past,’ added Lopetegui.

‘We will not look back but forward with confidence and hard work to consolidate our successes.’