Champions League Draw Analysis: Real Madrid Face Tough Task Against Lyon
Real Madrid couldn't have drawn a tougher opponent as they look to break the curse of the first knockout round and qualify for the quarter finals after failing to do so for five years running. Lyon are the first obstacle in the way of Real Madrid's dream of winning their tenth European title at their home, the Santiago Bernabeu, come next May.
History Against Real Madrid
Real Madrid have faced Olympique Lyon two seasons consecutively in the group stage in 2005-06 and 2006-07 season, and it hasn't been at all pretty for the Madrid-based club.
The Stade Gerland has been "hell" for Real Madrid as they have lost both their meetings there; What's worse is that they haven't managed to score a single goal there but have conceded five, 3-0 in 2005-06 and 2-0 in 2006-07.
The story doesn't get any worse for Real Madrid but it sure doesn't get much better, as Real Madrid have drawn both their meetings at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, 1-1 in 2005-06 and 2-2 in 2006-07.
Lyon go for a 4-5-1 with Hugo Lloris, the French international in goal and the defense consisting of Anthony Reveillere, Cris, Jean-Alain Boumsong, and Aly Cissokho. Their five man midfield consists of Jeremy Toulalan and Kim Kallstrom as holding midfielders, Miralem Pjanic as the creative spark in midfield, and Sidney Govou and Michel Bastos as right and left wingers respectively, with Lisandro Lopez as the lone striker.
However, with Bafetimbi Gomis another viable target man, 4-4-2 is another option for manager Claude Puel. Indeed, the versatility of the players in Puel's squad, and the tactical flexibility that gives him, could prove crucial in giving them an advantage in this tie.
Real Madrid also apply a 4-5-1 formation with Iker Casillas in goal, but the way that Manuel Pellegrini will line up his defence after Pepe being ruled out for the season remains a mystery till the weekend. He's most likely to play Sergio Ramos, Ezequiel Garay, Raul Albiol, and Alvaro Arbeloa in defense.
With Xabi Alonso, Lassana Diarra, and Kaka in the center, Cristiano Ronaldo on the right wing and Marcelo on the left wing, Real Madrid's midfield is one of the best midfields in the world. Gonzalo Higuain's form has seen him become a regular starter for Manuel Pellegrini over former Lyon man Karim Benzema and the legend Raul.
Journey To The Knockout Phase
Olympique Lyon just missed out on first place in Group E as Fiorentina managed to defeat Liverpool 2-1 on Matchday Six. Lyon won four of their matches, lost one and drew one securing 13 points, which quite interestingly is the same record as their opponents Real. Real Madrid secured qualification and topped Group C on Matchday 6 by beating Marseille at the Velodrome 1-3.
Real Madrid have the best scoring record in the group stages with 15 goals, with their highest scorer being Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored six goals (one less than champions FC Barcelona) in just four appearances which included only three starts. Olympique Lyon are not short of goals themselves, scoring 12 goals—which is the third best scoring record in the group stage.
The defensive record of Real Madrid isn't as impressive as their scoring record as they conceded seven goals whereas their opponents have the second best defensive record with four shutouts and only three goals conceded, bettered only by FC Girondins de Bordeaux (two).
Both teams will be looking to end their recent poor run in the Champions League with Lyon being knocked out three years running from the first knockout round and Real Madrid a whopping five years running.
On paper Real Madrid's team looks the stronger of the two and more likely to go through to the quarterfinals, especially when Cristiano Ronaldo is playing, but as the saying goes, games aren't won on paper!
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