Lyon can’t keep beating Real Madrid, can they?

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Lyon v Real Madrid
Second Round, UEFA Champions League
Stade de Gerland
Tuesday, 22 February
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 20:45 CET

We’ve heard it all before – Madrid will finally end Lyon’s unbeaten run against them. No, seriously, with Jose Mourinho at the helm, Madrid can really beat Lyon. Except we heard that with Barcelona, too, and no points for guessing how that went.

Madrid have new players, they have Mourinho, and they have all the expectations in the world weighing on them. It’s the kind of game Madrid need to win if they are to be taken as seriously as they tend to take themselves (actually, the game to win would be Barcelona at Camp Nou, but Madrid aren’t in a position to pick and choose).

A 1-1 draw then?

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Madrid are a changed side from the one that lost to Lyon 1-0 in the first leg last season, with Ozil, Khedira and De Maria joining the ranks in the summer and Adebayor coming in to bolster the ranks in January after Higuain’s injury. They’re also an improved side from last season, more ‘balanced’ as the Lyon manager put it, but none of that will matter if their players can’t figure out a way through Lyon’s defence, or stop them from scoring in both legs.

Lyon are without Lisandro Lopez after the Argentina forward injured his hamstring in training on Thursday.

Cesar Delgado is likely to play wide left as Bafetimbi Gomis moves to the lone striker’s role with France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff behind him.

Madrid, who are close to full strength, will bring back rested Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil, along with defender Pepe. Jose Mourinho must choose between former Lyon striker Karim Benzema or Emmanuel Adebayor as his main striker, with Benzema likely to get the nod.

Lyon’s Kim Kallstrom:

“We have already beaten them before and we’ll do our utmost to do it again. Despite our success last year, Madrid will start the tie as favourites. They defend better than they did in the past. You immediately see the influence of Mourinho. It will be a lot more difficult than in 2010.”

Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, has it all planned out:

“It has been years since Madrid made it through to the last 16 and it is because they have never beaten Lyon. I would like to know if Lisandro [Lopez], Jimmy Briand or Cesar Delgado will be playing. We have to study all the possibilities and be prepared for anything and everything.”

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