What: Champions League Round of 16
Who: Real Madrid (1) vs Lyon (1) (First leg score in brackets)
When: Wednesday 16th March, 2011, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Moment of Truth

The time has come for Real Madrid to finally end years of continental disappointment and progress beyond the Champions League Round of 16 stage for the first time in six years. Equipped with one of football’s best knockout-format coaches in Jose Mourinho, Los Blancos will be hoping to book a place in this edition’s final at Wembley stadium. To do so, they must first tackle bogey team Lyon.

There is a feeling in Madrid that this year might just be Real’s on the continental front. Equipped with Mourinho – a former two-time competition winner – Florentino Perez’s team certainly do not lack the talent to win the big one. After having returned from France with a precious 1-1 draw in the first leg, Real Madrid have been knocking out opponent after opponent, hoping that they will be at ease as they welcome Lyon to their Santiago Bernabeu bastion.

With their most important game of the season coming up, club skipper Iker Casillas called for the team to rally as they try to break their continental curse, stressing on the home ground advantage in this match: “We will need the support of our fans against Lyon. We want people to come to the stadium to support us. We must all come together to give a good performance.”

We’ve Done It Before

While Real Madrid have been imperious at home this season, Lyon will want to be the first team to upset them on familiar soil and knock them out of their most beloved competition. With the meetings between both teams becoming an informal European rivalry – Real Madrid have never beaten Lyon – Les Gones will fancy their chances of an upset.

The first leg scoreline of 1-1 surely favours the nine-time competition winners, but Lyon nonetheless hold a great opportunity of qualification. Having dominated the first game’s first half, the former Ligue 1 champions could have truly ended proceedings back then, only to succumb to Mourinho’s tactical change. The introduction of Karim Benzema saw the Frenchman score after mere seconds, but Lyon forward Bafetimbi Gomis managed to level things up for his team to see them fight another day.

Questioned on his thoughts about the return leg, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas declared that Mourinho will play for a goalless draw and take advantage of the away-goals rule: "I am sure Mourinho will play for a 0-0. But, we will try to qualify and if we do it will be an unprecedented feat. The conditions are not the same as last year, and it will be even harder to go through having drawn at home”, concluded Aulas.


Recent form

Real Madrid:
Real Madrid 7-0 Malaga (03/03; La Liga)
Racing Santander 1-3 Real Madrid (06/03; La Liga)
Real Madrid 2-0 Hercules
(12/03; La Liga)

Lille OSC 1-1 Lyon (27/02; Ligue 1)
Lyon 5-0 AC Arles (06/03; Ligue 1)
Sochaux 0-2 Lyon (12/03; Ligue 1)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Fernando Gago; Kaka; Gonzalo Higuain; Ezequiel Garay (doubt)

Lyon: Ederson; Aly Cissokho (doubt); Yoann Gourcuff (doubt); Cris (doubt)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Karim Benzema: The former Lyon starlet has been impressively improving in recent weeks, following his precious goal against his former club. Braces in three consecutive games have seen him earn the praise of superiors and fans alike, and a good contribution at the Bernabeu would undoubtedly boost his chances of a stay beyond the summer.

Lyon – Hugo Lloris: France’s international number 1 made a string of excellent saves at the Stade Gerland to deny Real Madrid all the spoils a fortnight ago. One of Europe’s best and most prolific shot-stoppers, his presence between the posts will surely be welcomed against Los Blancos’ attacking threat. Should Lyon advance, Lloris will surely have performed to his best.

Match Prediction

Boasting an invincible home record, the signs seem to indicate a Real Madrid win, with the side finally progressing past the Champions League Round of 16 after years of failure. Los Merengues prepared well for this bout and with Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the starting eleven, things do not favour Lyon. Expect a 3-1 win for the home side.

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