Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari wants his stuttering side to be more clinical in attack as they attempt to belatedly get their 2019 up and running with victory over Leganes in the Copa del Rey.
Real finished 2018 with three successive LaLiga wins and victory in the Club World Cup but have found life difficult since returning from the winter break.
The European champions conceded a late equaliser to be held 2-2 at Villarreal last Thursday, and then on Sunday were humbled 2-0 at home by a Real Sociedad side who had not won a league match since November.
Those two league setbacks have left Madrid 10 points adrift of leaders Barcelona and with the pressure starting to build, Solari is looking for a response in the cup.
He told a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s last-16 first leg at the Bernabeu: “We will go out looking to win from the first minute and we will have to play similarly to how we did against Melilla (a 10-1 aggregate win in previous round).
“The cup is very nice, we need to give it the attention it deserves from the opening minutes of the game.”
The former Madrid winger knows his side need to improve on recent performances, though.
He added, in quotes reported by the Spanish press: “Tomorrow we attack the cup. We will try to win it, as we try to go out to win every game.
“We are self-critical and we have to be more decisive in the final third of the pitch. We’re looking to win a title. It’s important to be focused from the start and be more convincing in the final third.”
Solari’s side were without the injured Gareth Bale for the defeat to Sociedad and the Wales international found himself making headlines after being photographed apparently leaving the game in the second half when his side were 1-0 down.
When asked about the incident, Solari said: “These things are resolved in private.”
Bale again looks set to be missing for the visit of Leganes while it remains to be seen if new signing Brahim Diaz will make his debut.
The miseries continue to pile up for Real Madrid as star midfielder Toni Kroos becomes the latest player to be added to the injury list.
The German tore his abductor muscle during Los Blancos’ 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad and could miss up to one month of action.
“Following tests carried out on our player Toni Kroos today by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a grade 2 tear of the abductor muscle in his left leg,” read a Madrid statement.
“His recovery will be monitored.”
Marcos Llorente, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz are other players who are currently sidelined due to injury as Santiago Solari’s side head to Real Betis this weekend.
Madrid have dropped points in each of their two games in 2019 and will be looking to get back to winning ways at the Benito Villamarin
The 19-year-old Spanish forward was officially presented at the Bernabeu on Monday after passing a medical and completing the formalities of his move to the European champions, who needed a pick-me-up after losing to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, which was broadcast on Real Madrid TV, Diaz said: “Today is the most important day of my life, arriving at the team I dreamed of playing for when I was a child. This is the best present for me for Christmas.
“When I decided to leave Manchester City I only thought about three options. The first one, play for Real Madrid. The second one, play for Real Madrid. And the third one, play for Real Madrid. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
Provided by Press Association Sport