No Luka Modric, no Gareth Bale, no Karim Benzema – Real Madrid could not have asked for three more important players to miss the quarterfinal second leg against Atletico Madrid (not taking into consideration the irreplaceable Cristiano Ronaldo, of course). Without the key trio, find a way past the stubborn La Liga champions they must if they are to keep their hopes of back-to-back Champions League wins alive and kicking.
A turgid first leg at the Vicente Calderon ended goalless, leaving this second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday perfectly poised. A goal for Atletico would mean a minimum two goals needed for Real Madrid to go through, and with Marcelo, who is suspended, also missing from their lineup, the home team have their work cut out.
Seven matches Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have played against each other this season, and not even once have the Los Blancos come out on top. So, Carlo Ancelotti needs to solve that particularly puzzling puzzle, while Diego Simeone will try and keep the stranglehold on their neighbours with another tactical masterclass.
"We have to live with the injuries -- we have done so in the past," said Ancelotti. "We are without some important players but we couldn't be any more motivated.
"Atletico are very strong, one of the best teams in the world in defence, so we have to do what we did in the first half at their stadium. [In the second leg] we want to play well from the first minute until the last.
"This match is so important and we don't need any more motivation. We just have to implement our tactical plan on the pitch like we did in the first leg."
That first leg saw Real Madrid fly out of the traps in sound fashion, but the goal that their endeavour deserved did not come, and they cannot afford that kind of profligacy in the second leg.
Atletico Madrid, who will be without the suspended Mario Suarez, will play pretty much the same way they have played all season against Real, which is stay tight in defence and look to take advantage of the chances presented. The defensive organisation of Simeone's men has been second to none since he took over at the club, but even if the likes of Benzema and Bale are missing, Atletico will need to be at their defensive best to keep Real's attackers (read Ronaldo) at bay.
"We want to savour and enjoy more nights like these because they don't come around often," said Simeone. "There is no pressure on these teams, but there is responsibility. We are focused only on ourselves.
"We have been doing well at the back of late. We have great players in defensive positions and I have a problem deciding which ones are better suited for each match. We have players who can keep us safe at the back and attack if possible."
Expected lineups: Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao; Isco, Khedira, Kroos, James; Ronaldo, Hernandez.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira; Turan, Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Griezmann, Mandzukic.
Where to Watch Live
The Madrid Derby is scheduled for an 8.45 pm CET (12.15 am IST, 7.45 pm BST, 2.45 pm ET) start with live coverage in India on Ten Action and Ten HD. Viewers in India can also catch the match via live streaming online on Ten Sports Live.
Audience in the UK can watch Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid Live on Sky Sports 1, with the live stream option on Sky Go and Watch Sky Sports. Watch the game live in the US on Fox Sports, while the quarterfinal can also be live streamed on Fox Soccer 2 Go.
Viewers across the world can also watch the match via live streaming on UEFA Video.