Sami Khedira says Jose Mourinho's recent criticism of his Real Madrid players' efforts was justified and has vowed Los Blancos will improve for Tuesday's Champions League opener against Manchester City.
The build-up to the Group D clash at the Bernabeu has been dominated in Spain by speculation about tension between Mourinho and his squad, and among individual players, with stories breaking on Monday evening of serious dressing-room arguments after Saturday night's 1-0 defeat at Sevilla.
The continuing professional sadness of star attacker Cristiano Ronaldo, and Barcelona's eight-point lead in La Liga after just four games, have also added to the apparent turmoil at Real Madrid.
German midfielder Khedira sat beside his coach at the club's Valdebebas training facility on Monday afternoon and told reporters that Mourinho had been right to say Real have not been playing well.
"We are a team," Khedira said. "The coach has responsibility, but the players are the ones who play, and in Sevilla we did not do everything as well as we should have. Mourinho is right in his complaints. We played very badly and he has the right to comment as he likes."
Khedira, 25, admitted that the mood within the Madrid camp could be better, and said he and his team-mates would need to be prepared for the challenge of the English champions.
"Our self-confidence is not very high, but we need to get it back and be ready," he said. "I have a big challenge, to take on Yaya Toure. Manchester City have magnificent players."
Some pundits in Madrid have accused Khedira, and Germany international team-mate Mesut Ozil, of playing better for their country than their club, but the former Stuttgart player denied this assertion.
"I do not share that opinion," he said. "I always give everything, just as Ozil does. At Madrid I play in a different position than I do with Germany."