Real Madrid hosts Bayern Munich on Tuesday in a Champions League game pitting two powerhouse clubs desperate to break out of slumps.
The teams have a total of 13 European cup titles between them nine for Madrid but this year's competition represents perhaps their only chance of winning major silverware this season.
Madrid has had trouble scoring, particularly at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where it has just 12 goals in 11 Spanish league games this season for the worst tally in its history.
"When an opponent plays defensively and waits to counterattack we find it tough," coach Fabio Capello said after Madrid's 0-0 league draw with Real Betis on Saturday.
Capello's second spell in charge of Madrid has been a disappointment compared to his first, when he guided the team to the Spanish title in 1997.
And with Madrid already eliminated from the Copa del Rey and lying fourth in the league, a 10th European title may be the Italian coach's only hope of keeping his job.
A loss to Bayern could lead to Capello's dismissal. He has been the target of protests by many fans at Madrid's last two home games.
David Beckham is hoping to win his first major trophy with Madrid before he leaves for the Los Angeles Galaxy in August.
The midfielder, who was dropped for a month by Capello after announcing his move to the United States, is expected to start for his third straight game. Beckham was sent off for a foul in injury time of Saturday's game.
Beckham's former England teammate, Bayern midfielder Owen Hargreaves, said the outcome of Tuesday's match was difficult to predict because Madrid "changes every Sunday."
"Until they find a fixed team they'll find it really difficult to be successful. They lack consistency," Hargreaves, who may start if he recovers from the flu, told El Pais.
Four-time European champion Bayern's form hasn't improved since it replaced coach Felix Magath three weeks ago with Ottmar Hitzfeld, who guided the German club to the Champions League title in 2001.
Bayern, which has been eliminated from the German Cup, suffered its seventh league defeat of the season on Saturday at struggling Alemannia Aachen, leaving it in fourth place.
"I'm expecting a very different display on Tuesday. We're totally fired up for Real," Hitzfeld said after the 1-0 loss.
In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Sunday, Hitzfeld said the matchup with Madrid was "a meeting of two wounded giants."
"But I think we are justified in thinking we can reach the quarterfinals," he added.
Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro and Spain defender Sergio Ramos are doubtful for Madrid, as is midfielder Mahamadou Diarra, reports AP.
Lukas Podolski, the German international voted best young player of the World Cup, will start for Bayern. The striker spent most of his time on the bench under Magath.
The second leg is on March 7.