Real in top form to tackle Lyons

Real Madrid will attempt to put themselves in a position to end five years of Champions League disappointment tonight when they take on Lyons in the first leg of their last-16 tie at Stade Gerland.

Madrid have failed to reach the quarter-finals of this competition since the 2003-04 campaign, since when they have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in successive years by Juventus, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Roma and, most recently, Liverpool.

It is a hugely disappointing record for the nine-times European champions, and one they will be desperate to avoid repeating this season, especially with the final being staged at their Bernabeu stadium.

Madrid could hardly have had a better weekend in preparation for their trip to Lyons, though, with almost everything going right for them.

Not only did they beat Xerez 3-0, Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice on his return from suspension, but they also got a huge helping hand from local rivals Atletico, who inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Barcelona on Sunday night.

Those results mean there are just two points separating the big two at the top of La Liga and, with Barça still to go to the Bernabeu, Madrid are now in control of their own destiny.

Another plus for Manuel Pellegrini's side came with the news that the striker Karim Benzema had recovered from a groin problem more quickly than expected and he was included in a 19-man travelling squad to face his former side Lyons. The France international, who swapped his hometown club for Madrid in a big-money move last summer,said: "I'm fine, ready to play, be it from the start or for the last half-hour. "I hope that I get a good reception in Lyons and I think that I'm going to have a good match. It is a historic moment for me, it's a pleasure to return to Lyons."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
music
News
Donald Trump
people
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food