Real Madrid defender Pepe was at a loss to explain his team’s listless first-half display in the 1-0 defeat at Villarreal.
The hosts were in sparkling form at El Madrigal and took a deserved lead in the eighth minute through Roberto Soldado.
Madrid could easily have been facing a steeper task at the interval after being comprehensively outplayed during the first 45 minutes.
They improved thereafter but were undermined by poor finishing from their star attacking line-up.
“I don’t know what happened in the first half. We were not plugged into the game,” Pepe told television reporters.
“To win matches, you have to come out ready. We’ll continue to fight.
“The second half was different but we were not able to score.
“You have to give credit to Villarreal. We should have matched their intensity.”
Real now sit five points behind joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in La Liga, and Pepe called on his team-mates to stick together as they look to renew their assault in the title race.
“We have to fight until the end. That is what the fans ask of us,” he added.
“We have to have more team spirit.
“We have to talk and fix this. We need to be more connected.”