Real in top form to tackle Lyons
Tuesday 16 February 2010
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."
Latest in Sport
Jose Mourinho: 'The dogs bark and the caravan goes by,' Chelsea manager gives cryptic assessment after Blues win title
Floyd Mayweather next opponent: Mayweather more likely to pick a former foe than a fresh contender like Amir Khan in Las Vegas lottery
Manchester United transfer news: Adnan Januzaj to be offered in deal for Memphis Depay
Arsenal transfer news: Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini set for showdown summer talks over future
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils