When you've spent the sort of cash that Real Madrid have in the summer months, elimination from Europe's wealthiest competition at the first knock-out stage is not really supposed to be on the agenda. As Cristiano Ronaldo neatly summed it up, his side's Champions League last-16 return leg against Lyons at the Bernabeu tonight is a "do-or-die" match.
Madrid have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament in each of the past five seasons and need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit if they are to buck that trend. Ronaldo's arrival at Madrid for a world-record £80m fee last summer epitomised the extraordinary lengths Real are prepared to go to in the pursuit of success, and failure to improve on the efforts of recent campaigns would be viewed in a dim light in the Spanish capital.
But the Portugal winger, a Champions League winner with Manchester United in 2008, insists Madrid have what it takes to progress. "The match is do-or-die," the competition's top scorer this season with six goals so far this season said.
"We are playing very good football and we have proven that we are the strongest team in La Liga. Lyons are a strong team physically speaking, but it's our turn to play at home. I am convinced that this team will respond and that we will make it through to the next round."
Manuel Pellegrini's troops failed to find top gear in the first leg at Stade Gerland but their form in La Liga has been altogether different, with Saturday's thrilling 3-2 win over Seville sparking delirium at the Bernabeu and taking Madrid to the top of the table. "I was amazed by the fans and must thank them for their support," Ronaldo added. "I hope we see the same kind of atmosphere because they play a crucial role in our success."
Real Madrid (probable 4-1-2-3): Casillas; Albiol, Ramos, Garay, Arbeloa; L Diarra; Granero, Kaka; Guti, Higuain, Ronaldo.
Lyons (probable 4-1-4-1): Lloris; Reveillere, Cris, Boumsong, Cissokho; Toulalan; Govou, Makoun, Pjanic, Kallstrom; Lopez.Reuse content