Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos believes his side have to ensure they finish in the top four in La Liga, having endured a tough league season to date.
Los Blancos suffered their latest setback on Saturday as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Villarreal, who closed to within a point of Real, who currently occupy fourth place in the standings.
And Kroos accepts that all hopes of retaining the league title are gone, with Barcelona already 16 points clear of their deadly rivals.
The Germany international told BeIN Sports: "First of all, we have to think about our position at the moment.
"We have to focus on qualifying for the Champions League next season. I think that should be the objective for the rest of the season.
"That's because 16 points (to Barcelona) is very big. It's not the time to think about anything that isn't the next game and picking up points in order to get closer to our objective, which is to be among the top four."
Meanwhile, head coach Zinedine Zidane remains confident that Real will be able to turn their fortunes around as soon as they improve on a run of one win in five games since they lifted the FIFA Club World Cup.
He added: "Once we win a game it will change things. We have to keep thinking that we're going to change them. After we win a match, we must keep working hard so we can win the next one.
"I don't think we're predictable and the team haven't hit rock bottom. We're in a bad way and losing was a blow, but we'll keep going."
Real are 8/1 to win a third consecutive Champions League title this season, with Barcelona 13/2 and Manchester City 3/1.
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