Real Madrid v Lyon: Thursday 17 March at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Real Madrid faces off against Lyon in the second-leg of its Champions League encounter in the early hours of Thursday morning. Both sides have a great chance of progressing through to the quarter-finals of the competition, after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw. With Madrid to hold the priceless home field advantage, both teams will be looking to improve on recent performances in Europe’s most elite club competition.
Real Madrid will be especially determined to get past Lyon. If it fails again, it will mark the seventh successive year in which its campaign has ended in the second round. With the tie delicately poised, as well as the pressure of past successes and recent failures also hovering around, expectation will be weighing heavily on coach Jose Mourinho and his players.
The Spanish Giants, undefeated in the competition so far this year, had a dream lead up to the encounter. Their weekend meeting against Spanish League minnows Hercules allowed them to rest many of their key players, whilst still picking up a comfortable 2-0 victory. The return of Portuguese megastar Cristiano Ronaldo, coupled with an injury free squad to choose from, means the passionate “Madridistas” will be full of confidence before kick-off.
French club Lyon has been somewhat of a bogey team for Madrid in recent times, as the Spaniards have never mustered a victory against their French foes. Unfortunately for Lyon, its recent form in the Champions League hasn’t been promising, suffering defeats in its last two encounters played away from home. Yet they tuned up well for this massive encounter with a confident 2-0 win against FC Sochaux on the weekend.
Lyon’s hopes of taking anything from this match will rest heavily on its ability to keep Madrid’s potent offensive attack quiet. Yet Lyon can’t just rely on defense to win the game. After the 1-1 result in the first leg, Lyon will need to score at least one goal if it is to progress through to the next round. The return of star players Lisandro Lopez and Yoann Gourcuff becomes extremely important, especially with Brazilian star Michel Bastos joining Frenchman Aly Cissokho on the sidelines.
– Real Madrid is yet to concede a goal at home in this year’s Champions League.
– Lyon eliminated Madrid last season on the way to making the semi-finals in the competition.
– Real Madrid is the most successful club in the history of the competition, claiming nine overall titles.
– Madrid is undefeated at home in all competitions this season.
Both clubs should be relatively familiar with each other, with this being the fourth encounter between them in the last two years. Lyon has enjoyed some wonderful success against its heavily favoured rivals in the past – but that all appears to be coming to an end.
The much superior Madrid squad, bolstered by a successful result in the first leg and under the tutelage of master coach Mourinho, should comfortably dispose of Lyon and move on in the competition.
Real Madrid 3 – Lyon 0