Real Madrid travel to France to meet Lyon (yet again!) in the Champions League round of 16 (yet again!). This is another opportunity to firstly overcome the ‘Round of 16 terror’ and then go for La Decima at Wembley.
Keepers : Casillas, Dudek, Adán.
Defenders : Pepe, Ramos, Albiol, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Garay, Carvalho.
Midfielders : Lass, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Kaká, Granero, Pedro León, Canales, Özil, Di María.
Strikers : Ronaldo, Benzema, Adebayor.
Absentees : Gago (technical decision) and Higuain (injured)
So everyone included in the squad to face Lyon. Exception Gago who actually came on as a substitute in the game against Levante for Benzema. Possible signs of numbered days for the Argentine at Bernabeu considering we already have Lass, Khedira and Alonso to make for defensive midfield options.
Alongside, Gonzalo Higuain who would not be travelling with his team mates due to his surgery and now the recovery process (Animo Pipa, Recuperate Pronto!)
Also part of the squad is January signing of Emmanuel Adebayor who makes it three striker choices for Jose Mourinho.
Keeper : Lloris,Vercoutre.
Defenders : Réveillère, Gassama, Cissokho, Diakhaté, Lovren, Cris.
Midfielders : Toulalan, Gonalons, Källström, Gourcuff, Bastos, Delgado, Grenier, Pied, Pjanic.
Strikers : Lacazette, Briand, Gomis.
Argentine Lisandro Lopez is missing from the squad to face us due to a hamstring injury he picked up last week in training.
Delgado is likely to play on the left side with Gomis playing as lone striker role.
Pjanic who scored against us at the Bernabeu last time around is also included in the squad.
We have a woeful record when it comes to Lyon and especially when travelling to Stade de Gerland.
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As the stats suggest, we are not good when it comes to facing Lyon in their home arena (or even at home!) so we have our work cut out to get a good result from France.
In the 3 previous visits (2005/06 and 2006/07 group stages and last season in the round of 16) we have scored 0 goals and achieved 0 points. If there is any respite or positive to see from it, then it is that the goals conceded has gone down. From 3-0 to 2-0 and then 1-0 (0-0 this time around?)
Real Madrid : Casillas, Ramos, Carvalho, Pepe, Marcelo, Khedira, Alonso, Lass, Ronaldo, Ozil and Adebayor.
Iker Casillas gets back to goal keeping duties after an absence of nearly two games absence in La Liga due to his red card against Espanyol.
At the back, Ramos would have little space to venture forward and needs to be in his toes to prevent any attack from creeping up down the right hand side. Carvalho and Pepe have had good understanding in the centre of defence and will continue playing that role. Marcelo on the left will also continue as he has been good defensively this season and more importantly in attack down the flank.
In the midfield, I believe Jose would want to get out a simple win (if at all) or a draw. He wouldn’t want to go for the kill in the first leg itself but take it to our own backyard in the second leg. This means he would go for three defensive midfielders as Lass, Khedira and Alonso would prevent any attack from Lyon and be the link between the defence and the attack.
As attacking options, Ozil and Ronaldo would play a little up ahead of Lass, Khedira and Alonso with the ability for both the German and Portuguese international to roam about and use the width of the pitch. We are very well aware of the capabilities of these two and they can easily play on both sides but for formations sake, Ronaldo would play on the left side and Ozil on the right. This means there is no Kaka or Di Maria to start but we might see them at one point in the game, depending on how it is progressing.
Up front I go for Adebayor rather than Benzema (despite the official website using his image on their homepage today) . It would make perfect emotional sense to have Benzema starting as he would be charged up to perform against his old side and have some ideas up his sleeve to go past their defence but knowing Mourinho, who is about winning the game rather than fulfilling someone’s personal dream (including his own) Adebayor makes perfect sense. The Togolese international will hold the ball well, use his physical strength to match that of Lyon’s captain – Cris, which would be necessary given we would have lesser attacking options deployed.
Lyon : Lloris, Réveillère, Cris, Lovren, Cissokho, Toulalan, Källström, Delgado, Gourcuff, Bastos, Gomis.
Lyon currently sit fourth in the domestic league and crashed out of Coupe de France after losing to Nice 1-0 in the Round of 32. In the recent league game they scored three past Nancy in the final 13 minutes to manage a comfortable win at the end. Their record of last five games stands at 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. However, they have had only one loss at home in this campaign which yet again highlights their prowess at home. Having said that, they haven’t been overly impressive at home too. In the league they have had 7 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss at home.
Barely given the recognition by media that they deserve, Lyon are a tough side to break down. Their side not boasting of high profile players like ours, does know how to play collectively and work hard to beat their competition. Their main positive lies in the work attitude and the defence.
Vercoutre started in the goal for them on the weekend with Lloris not completely fit but he is expected to start the game tomorrow.
Their attack works more down the centre but I would speculate that they would try to get better of us by mastering our vulnerabilities of losing out on counter attacking opportunities and thus taking to the wings and putting in some crosses into the box. French youngster, Gourcuff, would be an important player to mark for our defensive midfield as he is the creator of opportunities for men upfront.
It would be a tough game for us from the onset and we would have to ensure that we maintain possession and keep control of the ball. We have seen time and again that they can make the most of such opportunities and eventually frustrate us with their strong defence. Moreover, the psychological aspect would quite possibly play an important role as we battle our Round of 16 daemons and try to go past our “bogey team” in Europe.
I would love a 1-1 draw as an away goal could be ever so useful in our road to Wembley! HALA MADRID!
What are your views on the tactics that they or we would deploy? Disagree with my lineup? Put in your comments below!