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.
Gareth Bale made an early exit during Real Madrid’s home defeat to Real Sociedad (Adam Davy/PA)
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 Spain Under-21 international joined from Manchester City on Monday for an initial fee of £15.5million and trained with his new team-mates for the first time on Tuesday.
Solari said of the 19-year-old: “He seems well to me, he’s happy to be at Madrid. It (his being available to make his debut) will depend on the paperwork I imagine.”
Leganes travel to the Bernabeu sitting 16th in LaLiga and having been beaten 1-0 by Espanyol on Friday.
However, they were unbeaten in nine matches heading into that game.
Coach Mauricio Pellegrino said: “There is something wonderful about football. It is not always the club with a bigger budget or more quality that wins, but the one who plays better in any given game.
He added on cdleganes.com: “We go there with the aim of keeping the tie alive ahead of the second leg.”