Real Madrid must win Wednesday's La Liga game at relegation-battling Valladolid or their hope of snatching the title from Atletico Madrid or Barcelona will be over, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.
Real missed a chance to wrest the initiative from leaders Atletico and second-placed Barca when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday and Ancelotti warned there was no more room for mistakes.
Atletico are top on 88 points after Sunday's shock 2-0 reverse at Levante with two games left. Barca, who host Atletico on the final day of the season and were held to a 2-2 stalemate at home to Getafe on Saturday, are on 85.
Real are two points behind Barca in third before their game in hand at second-from-bottom Valladolid.
"We have to win our three remaining games in La Liga," Ancelotti, whose side are through to face Atletico in this month's Champions League final, told a news conference. The Valladolid game is like a final for us because not winning it would mean losing the league," added the Italian, in his first season in charge at the Bernabeu. We are very focused and tomorrow we will give everything to win. It is a crucial match for both teams. They are fighting for survival and it won't be easy."
This season's La Liga title race is one of the closest in years with Atletico emerging as a third force to rival Real and Barca, the world's richest clubs by income.
Since the introduction of three points for a victory in the 1995-96 season, in only two campaigns have three teams retained a chance of winning going into the final match.
Deportivo La Coruna came out on top in 2000 against Barcelona and Zaragoza, while in 2007 Real Madrid beat Barcelona and Sevilla to the title.
There is a genuine chance that if they beat Atletico on the final day Barca would hand to title to their bitter rivals Real, while Atletico can seal it with a win against Malaga this weekend and a draw at the Nou Camp. Should Barcelona beat Atletico and both finish on the same points they would finish above them on head-to-head - but that could open the door for Real.
Ancelotti said Real's Wales winger Gareth Bale would miss Wednesday's game along with fullback Dani Carvajal.
Spanish media reported the pair were feeling the effects of Sunday's match and had not trained with their team mates.
Luka Modric, who missed the Valencia match with a calf problem, was available and fellow midfielder Sami Khedira, who has not played since tearing knee ligaments in November, could also feature, Ancelotti added.