Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admitted an opportunity had been missed to move clear at the top of La Liga after a frustrating goalless draw against Real Betis at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona's surprise defeat at Levante earlier on Saturday had given Los Blancos the chance to leapfrog their rivals.
However, after Eden Hazard's early effort had been ruled out for offside, the home side were unable to make the most of their possession as Betis battled to a hard-earned point.
Madrid are level on 22 points with Barca, but remain second, a point in front of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, who drew 1-1.
"We lost two points, it was an opportunity to add more, but I stay with the positive," Zidane said. "There is also a rival and they have also put us in difficulties, which is normal.
"It is true that we have all lost points, but this is the best League in the world and there is is no easy game, it does not exist. Every team can get you into difficulties and that is why it is the best league in the world. It is not easy."
Real Madrid had swept past Leganes in midweek, but Zidane stressed: "We are not going to always score five goals. We know that when we create chances, that is the most important thing. Our rhythm, intensity and overall game were all perfect, we just have to put the ball in the net.
"We will continue and it will be a very difficult league until the end and that is what that there is. All teams have lost points, but as I said there are no rivals against which you win easily and you have to accept it. We must do more to earn more victories, but we are not doing so badly."
Zidane believed Real his side should have been awarded a penalty during the second half. A low cross looked to have hit Zouhair Feddal on the hand as he made a sliding challenge - but the appeals were turned down following a VAR review.
"I saw a hand, but it is the interpretation of the referee, but we must not look much to that," Zidane said.
"It is not going to change anything, we know what happened, because I saw the hand and you also have to respect what the referee says. We have had a good attitude, we have made a good game, but we missed the goal so we have to keep going."
For Real Betis, it was an unexpected bonus point which edges them away from the bottom three. Coach Rubi said: "The feeling I have is sensational. I think the players have made an enormous effort of concentration, tactical work and intensity.
"We drew the match and also had some chances to score a goal, so we leave very happy and very satisfied."