Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas admitted the players were unhappy after dropping 16 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona but denied any tensions in the changing room and vowed to fight to regain his spot after being unexpectedly left on the bench last month.
Casillas tried to calm a storm of speculation over splits in the club after coach Jose Mourinho dropped him from the starting line-up on December 23 against Malaga, a game Real Madrid lost 3-2. Mourinho insists the decision was taken on technical grounds alone.
Asked about any tensions in the dressing room, the 31-year-old keeper said: "The word is not tension. The situation in the league, when we have had certain defeats, is not what we want. We all want to win and when things don't turn out well we are sad because we want to win for ourselves and our fans."
Casillas said he hoped the Christmas break would help the team recover, recalling their defeat to Malaga and the number of points they have now allowed to open up behind the first division leaders.
"We cannot carry on like that and it is not what we expected. We must not give up. We have to carry on, to run more, train more and let the results come on the field. Now, in 2013 we have to try to catch up points and know that the situation is difficult but not impossible."
Casillas said he felt fit, however, and would battle to regain his place for Sunday's match against Real Sociedad. "I feel fine, really. I am training. I think I have to improve every day. I am not a machine," he said.