There is no need to "kill Real Madrid forever" after a LaLiga loss at home to Girona, says right-back Alvaro Odriozola.
Santiago Solari's side led at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday thanks to a first-half Casemiro header, with Madrid hunting a sixth consecutive league win to exert pressure on leaders Barcelona.
But a second-half collapse saw a Cristhian Stuani penalty and Portu's header turn the game around for relegation-threatened Girona before Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was dismissed in the last minute.
Los Blancos are now nine points behind Barca ahead of a March 2 Clasico at the Bernabeu, with the sides also soon set to meet in the capital in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.
Madrid's chances of catching defending champions Barca are seemingly hanging by a thread but Solari has refused to concede his side's involvement in the title race is now over.
And Odriozola said there should not be an over-reaction despite Madrid losing to a Girona side that had not won any of their past 13 matches in all competitions since December 5.
"It's a difficult time because we were in a very good dynamic and this puts the brakes on," he told reporters. "The match could have been won and in the end it's lost, we have to do self-criticism and see where we've failed.
"We have to recover the group emotionally because what is coming is nice and we do not have to kill Real Madrid forever, we have to keep fighting, we have lost a battle but not the war.
"There is no need to make excuses, if Girona have taken the game, it is because they deserved it. The first half was good, we could have led 2-0 and taken the match but we do not have to make excuses."
And like Solari, Odriozola is not giving up hope that Madrid could yet catch Barca although they only have 14 league games remaining to do so.
"It's never an excess of confidence because at Real Madrid you go out at 200 percent to give everything," he continued. "Sometimes these things happen, it's tough for the group and the fans, but there are exciting weeks ahead and we're never going to give up.
"The calendar is what it is, we do not have to make excuses. We are alive in all three competitions, although LaLiga gets more complicated, but Real Madrid have cut other leads in other years."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.