Jose Mourinho admitted Real Madrid have next to no chance of retaining their La Liga crown in the wake of their 2-2 draw against Espanyol.
But Mourinho vowed to keep his side competitive for the rest of the season.
The capital club conceded an 88th minute equaliser to Juan Albin at the at the Bernabeu on Sunday evening, meaning that Barcelona could open up a 13-point gap at the top of the table should they defeat Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou later on Sunday.
“I think winning the league is almost impossible, but we still have perform better, because if we improve in La Liga, we improve in the Champions League,” he said at his post-match press conference.
“We are not as good as before. We do not have the same joy and confidence, and we struggle to score as much as last year. I have never been in this situation, but I do not lack strength.
“We will continue to fight for the title, even though it seems impossible, because this is Real Madrid. Everyone has to stand up for themselves – for ambition, personal dignity, and the Real Madrid name.”
Mourinho also touched on the performance of Luka Modric, who was substituted at half-time despite hitting the woodwork in the first period.
“Modric was not having a bad game, but I took him off as a strategic decision. I was sorry to remove him as he was doing okay.”
The Madrid boss concluded his press conference on a testy note, as in response to a question about his team’s defending on set pieces, he snapped: “You are a journalist, you should have the skills to analyse it yourself!”