This day in history of Ronaldo
MADRID, Jan 20 (Reuters) - A lot more than pride will be at stake when Valencia and Real Madrid meet in the first leg of their King's Cup quarter-final at the Bernabeu on Wednesday (kickoff 2030 GMT).
Primera Liga leaders Valencia know that inflicting a first domestic defeat on last season's league champions in their own stadium would not just help them reach the semi-finals, but also deliver a major blow to Real's morale.
Real have been in unconvincing form since the turn of the year and needed a piece of individual brilliance from Ronaldo to scramble a 1-1 draw at Real Betis at the weekend.
Their King's Cup form has also been unimpressive and they were somewhat fortunate to edge their way past second division Eibar in the last round.
A defeat against Valencia would set the alarm bells ringing at the Bernabeu, but coach Carlos Queiroz says he prefers to see the game as a chance for his side to recapture their early season form.
"Being drawn against Valencia is the best thing that could have happened to us," he says. "We are going to face two really intense games, but that will help us improve just at the moment when we are entering the critical phase of the season."
Real will be without playmaker Zinedine Zidane for both games after the Frenchman tore a leg muscle at Betis and Argentine midfielder Santiago Solari is favourite to take his place in the starting line-up.
Valencia coach Rafa Benitez will be able to choose from a full-strength squad, including influential midfielder Pablo Aimar who missed the weekend's goalless draw against Valladolid through suspension.
Atletico Madrid, spearheaded by in-form strike duo Fernando Torres and Demis Nikolaidis, meet Sevilla for the second time in four days in Wednesday's other quarter-final.
The two players scored in Atletico's fiercely contested 2-1 league win over the Andalucians on Sunday, but know they will face an even tougher challenge when they meet again in Seville.
Powerful Brazilian striker Julio Baptista returns to the Sevilla line-up after missing the league match because of a bout of influenza and will be out to continue his impressive scoring run in the cup.
Barcelona will be looking to new signing Edgar Davids to build on his promising debut last weekend when they host Real Zaragoza on Thursday.
Alaves, the only second division side left in the competition, meet struggling Celta Vigo in the other quarter-final.
By Simon Baskett