Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has reacted to coach Jose Mourinho's decision to drop him from the side that lost to Malaga by saying he would focus on regaining his place in the side.
As Real's troubled season took another turn for the worse with a 3-2 defeat, fans and pundits expressed bemusement at the decision to start Antonio Adan in place of captain Casillas.
The loss saw defending champions Real fall 16 points behind leaders Barcelona, but Casillas said he accepted the decision by Mourinho, with the coach explaining that it had been "purely technical".
"The coach decides which team he thinks is best for each match, and you need to accept the decision," Casillas told La Sexta television.
"I'm not used to being a substitute, but above Iker Casillas or any player is the team. What I need to do is continue training and try to recover the confidence of the coach.''
Casillas, who is also the captain of Spain, added: "It is the coach who decides who plays. It will be a nice battle with Antonio. There is a healthy rivalry between us.
"Throughout the week, I could sense that I wasn't going to play, but it's not a setback. Mourinho didn't explain anything to me. He doesn't do it when I play, nor when I don't."
A defiant Mourinho said after the match that he would not resign and did not fear for his job, and also insisted he did not regret dropping Casillas.
"Casillas? I have a clear conscience," AS newspaper reported him as saying. "I try to choose the best team for every game."
However, he said he believed the gap to Barcelona was now unbridgeable - a seintiment echoed by defender Sergio Ramos, who told Madrid's official website: "Once again we have dropped important points, despite the team playing well in the first half, in which we had chances to score but we didn't have any luck.
"We shouldn't think about the league leaders or anybody else. We should only think about ourselves.
"We must be self-critical and La Liga is now very difficult, practically impossible, but we need to keep on fighting."