REAL MADRID boss Julen Lopetegui has hit back at Lionel Messi’s claims that his side are weaker after selling Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Barcelona ace and fierce rival believes Juventus have a greater chance of winning the Champions League after landing the Portuguese sensation this summer.

Lionel Messi claimed that Real Madrid are now weaker without Cristiano RonaldoGetty – Contributor

Messi revealed: “Real Madrid are less strong without Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad. He is one of the best in the world.

“Juventus are a clear favourite to win the Champions League now they have Ronaldo. I was surprised by his decision as I didn’t expect him to leave Madrid or go to Juventus. It’s a very good team.”

But new Real boss Lopetegui has laughed off Messi’s claims with his side gunning for a fourth consecutive Champions League title.

He said: “I wouldn’t doubt these Real Madrid players for a second. I didn’t speak to [Ronaldo].

New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has laughed off Messi’s claims

Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus this summer in a £99m deal – Contributor

“It’s a situation that when I arrived, he had shown a desire to leave and the club facilitated it.

“I respected it and the strategy was taken.”

Lopetegui, 52, had a summer to forget after being sensationally axed as Spain boss on the eve of the World Cup.

He accepted to take over from Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid behind the Spanish FA’s back.

But he insists he has no regrets over his decision.

He added: “I don’t regret the decision I made, I’d go back and make it again.

Real Madrid are gunning for their fourth consecutive Champions League but without Ronaldo


“It doesn’t hurt to hear talk about the Spain national team. I am absolutely happy to train Real Madrid, I have a wonderful challenge.

“I wish Spain the best, to Luis Enrique and all of Spanish football. I am a follower of the Spain team.

“I think I did things correct, with the greatest honesty always under the premise that I would say yes to Real Madrid.”