Los Blancos have more than one bad run to break when they travel to meet les Gones...
Olympique Lyonnais are probably the side in world football with the best historical record when it comes to playing Real Madrid. On six occasions the sides have met, yet the Spaniards have never before come out on top, making les Gones their undoubted bete noire. Yet on Tuesday OL meet an entirely new beast when Jose Mourinho’s Blancos travel to the Stade Gerland.
The Rhone Valley side famously eliminate Madrid from this stage of the competition last season, having come into the game in seemingly innocuous league form. Claude Puel’s men approach the fixture in similarly middling style on this occasion, though a superb Friday night victory over Nancy should certainly be regarded as very real cause for optimism.
Lyon crushed the Lorraine side 4-0, though it did take them a period to finally breakaway. Once they were fully in their stride, the home side looked imperious, with Jimmy Briand’s superb overhead kick capping a memorable evening.
Having seen his team impress before only to fall flat in the following match, Puel is certainly not counting any chickens. “Real Madrid are a different calibre of opposition but it's good to have prepared for that game by taking the three points in this one,” he explained, according to the LFP’s official website.
It was a strong run to the Champions League semi-finals that allowed Puel to keep his job after a mediocre league campaign last term, and with pressure again on his shoulders, the former Lille boss will hope to ensure the Lyon’s hold over the their Spanish visitors is maintained as that would win him more valuable credit in the eyes of the home support.
Get Over The Jinx
Real Madrid continue to chase their illusive 10th European crown, but head coach Jose Mourinho is doubtless aware that his club need to take one step at a time, particularly since recent history portrays them as knock-out round flops in the Champions League. Historically Europe’s greatest club, they’ve been mediocre on the continent in recent years, falling at the last 16 stage every year since 2004, when French club Monaco eliminated them in the quarter-finals.
Each year they’ve come back seemingly stronger, but on this occasion they have really thrown everything at their European charge, reinforced by a new band of Galacticos, but perhaps most importantly the presence of habitual winner Mourinho, who has worked his magic previously with Porto and Inter.
With Barcelona continuing to dominate the Primera Division, many pundits see Europe as los Blancos’ best chance to end their lengthy trophy drought, but Real Madrid’s achievement of 60 points from 24 Primera Division matches should certainly not be overlooked. Three of those were garnered at the weekend, when Levante were beaten 2-0.
At home under Mourinho they’ve been flawless, but on their travels things have been a little more complicated for los Merengues. Defeats have by no means been commonplace, and with the mentally tough Portuguese at the helm, they certainly won’t go to the Stade Gerland with any fear. Indeed, Madrid’s dreadful record at the venue (three defeats in three visits) is only likely to serve as motivation to earn a positive result.
Lisandro Lopez is the big absentee, having hurt his hamstring at training last Thursday. Ederson is still recovering from a ruptured hamstring, but he’s closing in on action and could be ready to play early next month. Hugo Lloris has overcome illness to be named in the panel.
Emmanuel Adebayor could feature in this encounter for los Blancos as he is eligible to play, while Iker Casillas will return from a domestic ban to keep his place in goal.
Jerzy Dudek and Gonzalo Higuain remain absent due to injuries.