With both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona beginning 2014 with wins over their respective opponents, Real Madrid will know nothing short of three points will do when they host Celta Vigo in La Liga at the Bernabeu on Monday night.
Where to watch Live
The match is scheduled for an 11.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. The match can also be live streamed online HERE. Viewers in the US can catch the action live online HERE, while UK viewers can do the same HERE. To watch the match via live streaming in the Middle East and North Africa click HERE, while viewers from the rest of Africa can live stream the action HERE.
Real Madrid find themselves eight points behind leaders Barca and Atletico, after the pace-setting duo picked up maximum points against Elche and Malaga respectively.
With the way the league is shaping up, Real cannot really afford anymore dropped points, particularly at home against a side that are only a place above the relegation zone.
"We finished last year well, even though we struggled to win the last match," Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Sunday. "In the last two months we played well and tomorrow I hope to see that same attitude and concentration.
"The players have come back in good condition, the team is doing well and I think we can play well tomorrow. They are a good team that play good football. I know the coach's philosophy because he was in Italy and it is about playing good football. Hopefully it will be a good spectacle."
Real warmed up for the second half of La Liga with a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly in Doha, and after coming through an encounter against such a difficult opponent, albeit in an exhibition match, Ancelotti will expect his players to hit top gear right from the off against Celta.
Ancelotti has named Gareth Bale in the squad for the Celta game, but hinted the Welshman would not be risked from the start following a calf injury. "He is in the squad but I still don't know if he will play," Ancelotti said about the world's most expensive player. "He trained this week and has no problems, but we might wait a bit longer before he plays."
Left-back Fabio Coentrao is also back in training, but Ancelotti feels the Portuguese needs more time before making a return to the first XI following a long-term injury. "His situation is clear. He suffered a major injury with Portugal," the Italian added. "He began training 15 days ago and has to do a preseason. He is training with the team and is doing well but still needs 15 days or so to get into shape."
History is on Real Madrid's side for this fixture, with the Spanish giants having won each of their first league match at the Bernabeu for the last 22 season. Cristiano Ronaldo will also relish the encounter against Celta, having scored seven goals in his last four matches against Luis Enrique's side.