After morale-sapping defeats at the weekend, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen go head-to-head in the Champions League on Tuesday knowing that another slip-up could spell the end of their hopes of making the next round.
Real were dealt a humbling 3-0 defeat by arch-rivals Barcelona at the Nou Camp, while Leverkusen lost their first home match of the season when they went down by the same scoreline against Schalke 04.
With the two sides and Dynamo Kiev all tied on seven points in Group B, the complicated mathematics mean that a win for Real would put them through, but defeat at the Bernabeu would leave them at the mercy of other two sides who play each other in the final round of matches.
Real have been in disappointing form throughout the season and after Saturday's loss to Barca the talk in the Spanish media is that the team are in terminal decline.
But midfielder David Beckham, who was criticised for his anonymous performance at the Nou Camp, believes a win against Leverkusen will end talk of a crisis at the club.
"I don't think it's the end of any cycle; I just think it's was a bad result for us and we have to move on," the England captain said.
"We need to get back to winning games and playing good football and we all know that Tuesday's match is a massive game for us. If we win everyone will be happy again."
Beckham hinted that that he is still not match fit after his six-week injury lay-off and coach Mariano Garcia Remon could choose to drop Raul back into midfield and bring in Michael Owen up front in order to go for the win that would see Real through.
Raul goes into the match needing just one goal to equal the all-time European Cup scoring record of former Real great Alfredo Di Stefano whose record of 49 European goals has stood for just over 40 years.
He has also scored against Bayer before, most memorably in the 2002 Champions League final which Real won 2-1 in Glasgow.
Centre-back Ivan Helguera faces a late fitness test to see if he has recovered from the knee problems that kept him out of the Barca game, but right winger Luis Figo looks set to play despite some pain in his ankle.
Leverkusen, who slipped to 11th in the Bundesliga standings, after their defeat at home to Schalke 04, should welcome back skipper Jens Nowotny, who missed the game because of a minor stomach problem.
The Germans crushed Real 3-0 when they met at the BayArena in the opening group match in September and coach Klaus Augenthaler is optimistic that they can repeat that sort of performance in the return at the Bernabeu.
"We have another chance against Real and we must take it," said coach Klaus Augenthaler. "No one gives us much of a chance but we know we've always been a good side."
Hanno Balitsch was also left out against Schalke, with Bernd Schneider preferred in the right wing-back slot. Augenthaler is set to reinstall Balitsch on the right of midfield and give Juan the right-sided defender's role against Real.
Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 2-Michel Salgado, 19-Walter Samuel, 22-Francisco Pavon or 6-Ivan Helguera, 3-Roberto Carlos; 10-Luis Figo, 14-Guti, 23-David Beckham or 11-Michael Owen, 5-Zinedine Zidane, 7-Raul; 9-Ronaldo
Bayer Leverkusen: 1-Joerg Butt; 4-Juan, 5-Jens Nowotny, 3-Roque Junior; 25-Bernd Schneider, 28-Carsten Ramelow, 12-Andriy Voronin, 35-Diego Placente; 10-Paul Freier, 16-Jacek Krzynowek; 9-Dimitar Berbatov
Referee: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg)