Vallecano hasn't been beaten in five games, though, so Carlo Ancelotti should have another fierce battle on his hands when the Vallecanos pay a visit to the Bernabeu.
Date: Saturday, March 29
Time: 9 p.m. GMT
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
TV info and live stream: The match will be broadcast on Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports HD, with mobile coverage available via the Sky Go app (subscription required).
A brace by Carlos Bacca greatly damaged Real's title hopes when the team lost to Sevilla on Wednesday, and a big win over a city rival could be exactly what the club needs to regain its composure as Los Blancos aim to keep up with Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona on the La Liga table.
As reported by WhoScored.com, Sergio Ramos and Angel Di Maria will return from suspension, and the former is expected to start alongside Raphael Varane to give the defense a much-needed boost.
This fan remembers what happened to Ramos last time Rayo came to visit the Bernabeu, though:
Last season, Real Madrid won 2-0 against Rayo. Sergio Ramos got sent off after 8 minutes.— Shanta Ronaldo (@RealMadridxCR7) March 28, 2014
As shared by SocialRMadrid, the match against Vallecano will begin a stretch of eight games that all look winnable on paper, and the team will have to come through with its eyes on the title:
RM's 8 finals in La Liga Rayo, La Real, Almeria, Osasuna, Valencia, Valladolid, Celta, Espanyol. 8 must wins. Nothing is impossible.— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) March 28, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo is Real's biggest star and unquestioned leader, and B/R's Guillem Balague says it will be on the Portuguese superstar to step up for his club.
With goals in eight consecutive matches (including the UEFA Champions League), one has to wonder how much more Ronaldo can do for his club, though. The Ballon d'Or holder has done all he can in previous weeks, and now it will be up to the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to rally around him.
Real has beaten Rayo every time these two teams have met at the Bernabeu since the turn of the century, so history is definitely on the side of the Galacticos. In fact, the last time Real didn't beat Rayo in an official match was all the way back in 2003, per WhoScored.
But the Vallecanos are riding a tremendous hot streak that includes wins over Real Sociedad and Valencia, and the team will feel confident it can come away with a result against a suddenly reeling Real squad.
Despite that hot streak, Real is the overwhelming favourites going into this tie, and with Coach Ancelotti able to field one of his strongest squads and the team looking to bounce back from two bad outings, expect the Galacticos to go for the jugular early.
Prediction: Real Madrid 4-0 Rayo Vallecano