Real Madrid head coach Santiago Solari says fans should sometimes be happy to accept drawing matches in LaLiga.
The European champions were held 2-2 by Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica on Thursday, with Santi Cazorla scoring a late equaliser after Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane had put Madrid in front.
The result means Madrid are fourth in the table after 17 matches and seven points behind leaders Barcelona ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
There was criticism of Solari’s tactics during the Villarreal draw, as well as his side’s failure to hold on to their lead, but the Argentine insists such results should not be dismissed in a competitive league.
In a tense news conference on Saturday, Solari also stressed the importance of Madrid having climbed the table since he replaced Julen Lopetegui in October.
“The objective is to keep moving up the positions,” he said. “We’re aware the start wasn’t easy. We’ve moved into fourth place. We have to go out into the fight and take up the challenge of facing difficult situations. It’s what we’ve been doing and we’re happy with what we’re doing.
“Every team plays in this competition. We have one of the most beautiful leagues. Nobody gives you anything. Everyone has the talent to hurt everyone else.
“It’s a very competitive league. We shouldn’t undervalue draws. Obviously, we want to win, but the competition is open. We had a good first half at Villarreal and now we’ll try to win all three points on Sunday.”
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) January 5, 2019
Solari also rejected suggestions his players are not putting in enough effort, insisting their taxing schedule, which included a triumphant Club World Cup trip to the United Arab Emirates last month, has taken its toll.
“The players are not machines,” he said. “We have to do energy renewal exercises at the end of every match. Nobody has as many competitions as we do. It’s difficult.
“The players put in all their commitment, without a doubt. You have to watch some individual performances to realise that.
“[Gareth] Bale played all the time with a swollen ankle, Lucas [Vazquez] did 14 kilometres per game, [Dani] Carvajal has a huge heart, [Luka] Modric played with a fever against Villarreal … the level of commitment of these players is quite important.”
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