Jose Mourinho admits it is unlikely that Real Madrid will defend their La Liga title after they were held to a 2-2 draw by lowly Espanyol on Sunday.
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Espanyol scored a late equaliser to cancel out strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao, increasing Barcelona's lead over Real to 13 points following a convincing 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid for the Catalan club.
Real have dropped 15 points this season, already more than they did through the entire 2011/12 campaign and Mourinho concedes it is "almost impossible" to catch Barca.
"It seems crucial that we try to improve," he said. "I've never seen a situation where there's been so many points lost and that a team of mine was so far from its objective. It's a new situation for me. 13 points in December are a lot. We had eight last year and despite drawing two matches we maintained that distance.
"The league is almost impossible, but we need to continue, Real Madrid demand the maximum dignity. In my coaching career I've always, or almost always, achieved my objectives and this is new for me."
Although Mourinho was left bemused by Real's poor performance against 19th-placed Espanyol, he has turned his attention to European and Spanish Cup glory.
"We will try to finish the season as well as possible," he said. "If we improve in La Liga, it would help us to improve in the Copa del Rey and in the Champions League, where we have chances to be stronger.
"We can't worry about finishing first, second or third. We have to be stronger."