While most people will be transfixed by events at the Bernabeu tonight, back home there is a game taking place that for those involved could not be more important and there is far more than mere bragging rights at stake when Millwall host Crystal Palace in a local derby that has huge significance at both ends of the Championship table.
In fact, the meeting at the Den could hardly be more vital. If the strong rivalry that exists between the fans wasn’t enough to make this a tasty one anyway, that both clubs need the points for wildly contrasting reasons should ensure that this is one humdinger of a 90 minutes in what is a game in hand for both sides ahead of the final weekend of the regular season.
It is a strange situation where victory for either side would leave them with no worries come Saturday, whereas defeat could lead to a disastrous finale to the campaign.
For a long time this season it looked as though Crystal Palace would be winning automatic promotion to the Premier League: on January 1st, they sat in third position and trailed second-placed Hull City by just two points.
Yet come the end of April, Ian Holloway’s side are looking over their shoulder, desperately trying to ensure they remain in the top six and claim a play-off spot.
A win at the Den would do just that, but anything less would leave them vulnerable to being leapfrogged on the final day by Nottingham Forest, who sit just a point behind in seventh place.
But if the stakes are high for the Eagles, then they are even higher for their rivals. Millwall might have reached the FA Cup semi-final, but their Championship season has been slowly deteriorating for some time.
On the first day of 2013, the Lions were actually in seventh on 40 points, yet they come into the match tonight just one point clear of the relegation zone on 55 points and with their campaign on a knife edge.
Three points tonight would secure second-tier football for another season, moving them four points clear of third-bottom Barnsley with just a game left, but defeat would set up a nervy trip to Derby County at the weekend.
For the neutral it is perfectly poised, and the bookies at bwin can’t seem to separate them. Palace are slight favourites at 6/4 ahead of Millwall at 17/10, but the preference here has to be for the draw at 9/4.
Not only because it is bound to be feisty and tight, and not just because five of the last nine meetings between the two sides have ended all square, including the 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park earlier in the season.
A draw is the call because neither side can buy a win at the moment. Both Palace and Millwall are enduring a shocking end to the season that could still end in tears, and their current form reads like a horror story.
Holloway’s side haven’t won in eight league games, a run of four draws and four defeats where the Eagles have found the net just five times, drawing five blanks.
Similarly, Kenny Jackett’s men have won just one of the last eight, again netting just five times, and the confidence of these two sides could not be lower.
I can’t be backing Millwall when they boast the worst home record in the Championship (they have won just 27 points from their 22 games) but at the same time just six wins from 22 away league games is a poor return for a side looking to win promotion, while Palace’s 21 goals on the road is an abysmal tally: only Bristol City and Ipswich have scored fewer.
And when you consider Millwall have the worst home attack in the division – just 24 goals in 22 games at the Den – it is impossible to come up with a convincing argument why either side can win this match.
As such, the draw at 9/4 is the only possible bet.