Just for a moment, forget that football is played on the pitch; imagine that it is played on paper. You will then perceive that no club left in the Champions League other than Barcelona has as much talent and firepower as Real Madrid. Barcelona have the best set of individual talent in the world and only their most loathed rivals can match them.
From that angle, Lyon shouldn't really be a problem. While the French
giants have Lisandro Lopez, Miralem Pjanic and Aly Cissokho, Madrid
have Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema (wasn't he signed from
Lyon?), Xabi Alonso, Gonzalo Higuain and Lassana Diarra.
The problem is that football is not played on paper; it is played on
the pitch. And that is where Madrid have to show their class against a
side that defeated Liverpool at Anfield in the group stage.
For all the talk of Real Madrid being a calamity this campaign, they are
potentially just a couple of points behind Barcelona in the league and
in Europe won a group which included Milan. Their football
hasn't been consistent from the start but there has been a good mixture
of steel and silk, flair and grit. And importantly, as was evident
against Barcelona in 'El Clasico', they are gradually settling as
a team. And even more importantly, as was exhibited by their 3-2
comeback win against Valencia, the nine-time European champions can
win even without the Galacticos.
The major international football competitions are said to be won by a stroke of genius like that of Zinedine Zidane scoring that
goal at Hampden Park, but behind the lobe moment of ingenuity resides
the perspiration of a team. Critics say that Madrid are not a team but
a collection of galactic stars, which is true. But to a limited extent.
Against Barcelona los Blancos proved that although they essentally
remain a collection of top class talents picked up from across the
world, they are on the verge of galvanising themsleves into a team.
No, this is not to suggest that Madrid are a team yet, at least not at
the level Barcelona are - and the Catalans remain the best club side in
the world - but by the time the games against Lyon start they could
well be. The first leg of their tie against French giants Lyon is in
mid-February and there are a number of league games between now and
then, which would help polish this rapidly developing fearsome Real
The advantage for Madrid is that the first leg is in France. Playing
away from home in the first leg would remove Madrid of pressure and
enable them to go for a win. Even a 2-1 defeat wouldn't necessarily be
diabolical given that they will have the advantage of the away goal. A
score draw or a victory and Madrid would be through to the
quarter-finals. Without playing the second leg. For the first time in
six depressing years.
Which could just open the window for Europe's most successful side to
conquer what they believe is rightfully theirs: the European Cup.
Subhankar Mondal, Goal.com