Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has said his club’s ambitions this season have now changed after slipping to another defeat against Villarreal on Saturday afternoon.
The German international was helpless in Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Javi Calleja’s Villarreal on Saturday; a result which leaves them fourth place in the league standings and a massive 19 points behind leaders Barcelona.
Having set their sights on retaining the league title, Kroos has now admitted that their aspirations have changed following a run of poor results.
“First of all, we have to think about our position at the moment,” the midfielder told BeIN Sports.
“We have to focus on qualifying for the Champions League next season. I think that should be the objective for the rest of the season.
“That’s because 16 points is very big. It’s not the time to think about anything that isn’t the next game and not picking up points in order to get closer to our objective, which is to be among the top four.”
He added on Twitter: “It’s true that this is a difficult time for us and all Madridistas.
“But everybody who says we played a bad game today has no idea of football.
“It was a good performance and we have to continue. Still a lot to win this season!”
After a poor run of results – including a humbling defeat to bitter rivals Barcelona, as well as a draw to second division side Numancia – Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was already under heavy scrutiny coming into the fixture.
His players, however, were bright and purposeful from the beginning of this game, and were denied a goal when Bale was deemed to have drifted into an offside position when he nodded home Cristiano Ronaldo’s headed assist following a corner.
Marcelo and Ronaldo both stung the hands of Asenjo with powerful efforts midway through the first half, as the hosts drew closer to finding a breakthrough goal.
Ronaldo narrowly struck wide on two more occasions either side of Carlos Bacca’s low strike for Villarreal, which tested goalkeeper Navas for the first time.
Ronaldo – Real’s most likely scorer throughout – came closest on the 45-minute mark, but Asenjo’s miraculous save kept the scores level at the interval.
After the break, Villarreal almost netted themselves, but Denis Cheryshev – formerly of Real Madrid – dragged his shot wide of the post.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric failed to snatch a deciding goal in what was becoming another frustrating day for Zidane’s men.
With the final whistle drawing ever closer, Villarreal pounced to steal an unlikely victory with a breath-taking counter-attack.
Cheryshev was released on the left-hand side following some neat Villarreal passes, and the Russian squared to Enes Ünal, whose saved effort broke to Fornals who composedly chipped the ball over Navas from the edge of the penalty area.
The result means Calleja’s team climb to fifth place in La Liga, and are now only a point behind Madrid, who have a game in hand over the triumphant visitors.