Real Madrid defender Marcelo admitted Los Blancos are "f--king sunk" in La Liga's title race after they were held to a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Per Marca, the Brazilian did not mince his words as he summarised Real's situation after the stalemate:
"We're sad and we're f--king sunk.
"We're trying to get out of this mess and we're working to do that, but we don't like this at all. It's difficult because the more matches you draw or lose, the more the pressure increases.
"We can't do anything else. We do what we can, we try to play good football, score goals and circulate the ball, but it's not happening for us."
Real fought back with two goals from Gareth Bale after Daniel Wass lobbed Keylor Navas—whose poor positioning saw him caught in no man's land—but Maxi Gomez headed home late on to earn Celta a point.
SB Nation's Lucas Navarrete believed Marcelo's performance in particular left much to be desired:
Lucas Navarrete @LucasNavarreteM
Error 404: Marcelo not found.2018-1-7 21:25:20
The result leaves Los Blancos in fourth place, 16 points behind Barcelona in La Liga after they beat Levante 3-0 and five behind third-placed Valencia, albeit with a game in hand on those around them.
As Rafael Hernandez noted, Real and Barca's campaigns are not playing as expected at the start of the season:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
After Barcelona’s cataclysmic summer, Real Madrid are the ones having the season Barça were supposed to be having. Such is football.2018-1-7 23:43:33
Marcelo's team-mate Achraf Hakimi offered a similar assessment of Real, though he is refusing to give up on the title.
He told El Bernabeu (h/t the Mirror's Jack Rathborn): "We're f--ked! We lost two points here but we'll keep on fighting. La Liga is not lost, though. We are Real Madrid and we will fight until the end. Our rivals know us better now and this is evident in every game."
The draw continued a poor run of results away from the Santiago Bernabeu, per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Madrid not won away in La Liga since Oct 14 - lost at Girona, then drew at Atletico, Athletic Bilbao and now Celta. CL loss at Tottenham in there too.2018-1-7 21:36:57
Los Blancos have been little better at home, though, having failed to win four of their nine La Liga matches there this season.
BeIN Sports' David Cartlidge explained the struggles they're going through:
David Cartlidge @davidjaca
Celta were hardly battered today, yet all that keeps coming up is ‘wasting chances’. No. Real Madrid do not function like they once did and the system is a mess.2018-1-7 21:47:38
This is the first difficult period Zinedine Zidane has faced since taking charge two years ago, and thus far he has been unable to rectify the situation.
The departures of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Pepe in the summer have deprived the squad of the exceptional depth that proved crucial to their earlier success under the Frenchman, though it's clear that's far from the only issue they face with many of their stars failing to perform.
It would take a remarkable turnaround for them to win La Liga at this point, but there's little reason they can't still win other silverware if they can regain some form.
Investing in January might also help in that regard, but their problems run deeper than that and they need solutions as soon as possible.