Unsurprisingly, Real Madrid have taken control of Group D in the UEFA Champions League. A win at Dinamo Zagred was predictably difficult, but they got three points out of it then waxed Ajax at home. Now they welcome Olympique Lyon to the Bernabeu on matchday three, a win away from just about putting the group on ice and leaving the three others teams to squabble amongst themselves for the second advancement place.
Madrid vs. Lyon match-ups have become commonplace. Apparently the ping pong balls like seeing the two matched up because this is the fourth time in the last six years and third consecutive season that the two have been drawn against each other in the Champions League. Lyon eliminated Madrid two years ago in the round of 16, getting a win at home then holding on for a draw in Spain to advance en route to a semifinal appearance. Last season it was Madrid that followed that script, drawing at Stade de Gerland and winning at home to advance.
If Lyon want to top their familiar foes this time around they will need to find a way to put the clamps on Gonzalo Higuain, which is something that looks downright impossible right now. The Argentine has three hat tricks in his last four matches for club and country. Good luck to Lyon with trying to keep Higuain down in this one.
Their loss to Levante and draw with Racing Santander in the rearview mirror, Madrid have found their form once again. They've won their last four matches by a combined score of 17-3 as Higuain has shined alongside the always fantastic Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, but it is the rejuvenated (also known as finally healthy) Kaka that has an added dimension to their attack. Those players are a handful for any club and have proven to be a uncontainable for anyone they have come up against in the last month.
Lyon's defense isn't exactly sterling either. They're not atrocious and have held their own in Ligue 1, but when tasked with keeping in check some of the league's better players, like Javier Pastore three weeks ago, their midfield looked overmatched and their defense was left scrambling. It wasn't a pretty performance and while struggling with Pastore is nothing to be ashamed about, Madrid bring a team full of players on that level.
Want to know the best way to beat Real Madrid? Being healthy is one of them and unfortunately for Lyon, they are not close to healthy. Lisandro Lopez is out, as is their midfield duo of Clement Grenier and Jeremy Pied. The Madrid back line might be in some trouble with Ricardo Carvalho a doubt and Raul Albiol out, but that decimated Lyon attack is unlikely challenge them anyways.
So let's get this straight. The Lyon attack doesn't have Lopez and their dependable midfield to go at the Madrid back line. Higuain is also on fire and there's still that Ronaldo fellow, Ozil and Kaka for Los Blancos. Oh yeah, this one is going to go swimmingly for the French side. Madrid, see your way onto the brink of the knockout stages.
Real Madrid Vs. Olympique Lyon
Date: Tuesday, October 18
Time: 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm BST, 8:45 pm local
Venue: Estadio Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
TV: DirecTV Soccer (USA)
Olympique Lyon Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vercoutre; Reveillere, Cris, Kone, Cissoko; Gonalone, Fofana; Briand, Gourcuff, Michel Bastos; Gomis
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