Madrid have won just one of their last six games in all competitions and are without a win in La Liga since they beat Espanyol on September 22, a run spanning four games. A surprise success would make sacking Lopetegui harder to justify but five games without a win and over eight hours without a goal are not quickly forgotten.
The clásico is nearly upon us and attention is heating up ahead of the biggest game in world football. But with the forwards that are there, I think they can get back among the goals.
The first four meetings were between FC Barcelona and "Madrid CF.' It wasn't until 1920 that the Real prefix was given to the capital city club by King Alfonso XIII; 'Real" translates as "Royal" in English.
Also, Madrid's new number 7 and Ronaldo's "successor", Mariano Diaz, will have to prove himself as a potential go-to guy for the team.
Midfielders, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are expected to hold the midfield position for Valverde's side, while Sergi Roberto will start at right-back.
Lopetegui said Messi's absence was not a big factor in his preparations for the game.
"We don't focus too much on [stories that Madrid are in crisis]", Valverde said.
"Of course we miss him, but we want to miss him while winning". Messi is missing for Barcelona and they have their own selection issues to contend with.
"The Champions League is special for us, although the other competitions are also very important".
After training Madrid announced a 22-man squad to travel to the Catalan capital on Saturday afternoon, with Brazilian starlet Vinicius Junior included after Madrid appealed against his sending off last weekend, but defender Jesus Vallejo was ruled out with a thigh injury.