Real Madrid's players still believe they can win La Liga but have acknowledged the importance of Saturday's home clash versus Rayo Vallecano.
Carlo Ancelotti's men will enter the match hoping to avoid a third defeat in less than a week, with Sunday's Clasico loss at home to Barcelona having been followed by a 2-1 loss at Sevilla on Wednesday.
Those results have seen Los Blancos drop to third in the table, two points behind Barcelona, and three adrift of city rival Atletico.
It means Saturday's fixture in the Spanish capital takes on extra significance, with Madrid's title chances hinging on a positive result.
Gareth Bale arrived in Madrid to much fanfare in the offseason and now would be the opportune moment for the 100 euro million man to show why Madrid spent so much time – and money – in chasing him, with the Wales international now having gone more than a month without a goal.
One man who is having no problems finding the net is Cristiano Ronaldo, who tops the league's scoring charts with 27.
At the other end of the field, Madrid will welcome Sergio Ramos back from suspension after his controversial dismissal against Barcelona.
Rayo travels to Santiago Bernabeu in a buoyant mood, having embarked on a five-match unbeaten run that has included four wins.
That form has helped the club move five points clear of the relegation zone but the team left it late Wednesday, beating Osasuna 1-0 thanks to Joaquin Larrivey's penalty in second-half stoppage time.
Rayo gave Madrid a run for its money in November's reverse fixture, when a pair of Jonathan Viera penalties in the second half set up a nervy finish before Los Blancos ultimately held on to claim a 3-2 win.
Rayo does have the propensity to get beaten badly, though, having conceded four or more goals in eight league fixtures this season.
And for that reason alone, it will be wary of a Madrid side desperate to atone for a poor week.
- Sports & Recreation
- La Liga
- Carlo Ancelotti