It wont be easy, but over-confident Real Madrid should squeak past Lyon

Real Madrid v Lyon, Champions League last 16 second leg, March 10, 2010

Real Madrid 1.28; Draw 5.10; Lyon 9.00

“I’m sure the team is going to advance.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We will win 3-0 and the fans will once again get behind the team as they did against Sevilla. We are going to live another magical night in the Bernabeu.” – Sergio Ramos.

“It would be a disaster if we were knocked out by a rival like Lyon, who are good but not among Europe’s great clubs.” – Guti.

The noise coming out of the Bernabeu in recent days has been one of supreme confidence. The 3-2 comeback win over Sevilla on Saturday night which took Real Madrid back to the top of La Liga has elevated the huge expectation around the club.

The atmosphere around the Bernabeu seems well out of touch with reality. Thirteen games remain in the Spanish top flight and a battle with the best Barcelona side in history, yet the likes of Marca and AS have been predicting the title will be heading back to the capital.

Meanwhile there are no shortage of those predicting Real Madrid will play in the final of the Champions League, to be held in the Bernabeu. As top goal scorers in Spain and having won all but one of their 17 home games in 2009/2010 there is a basis for the optimism especially when the form of Cristiano Ronaldo (4.00 to score first, 1.71 to score anytime) and Gonzalo Higuain (4.35 to score first, 1.80 to score anytime) is factored in.

However, and this is where the “but” comes, Real Madrid have not progressed past this stage of the competition for five seasons and returned from France with a poor 1-0 defeat following a distinctly insipid performance.

Throw in the fact that Xabi Alonso and Marcelo picked up suspensions and will miss the second leg and it becomes clear that this match is not a foregone conclusion. Jean II Makoun’s (5.50 to score) long range effort lit up a fairly average game where Claude Puel got his tactics spot on. And having failed to let in a goal for 620 minutes Lyon will be confident of keeping the Galacticos quiet.

Lyon will be without Brazilian winger Michel Bastos (4.35 to score) (a potential starter for Brazil at the World Cup) but the likes of Cesar Delgado, Aly Cissokho and Lisandro Lopez (3.75 to score), all recent injury doubts, are expected to be fit. OL have quality throughout the side and could well make it an uncomfortable night for Real Madrid.

The French giants may not be the dominant force they once were in Ligue 1 but have some players who are well capable of producing the goods at the Bernabeu and an away goal would put them in the driving seat.

The likes of Hugo Lloris and Cris form a solid spine in defence whilst Aly Cissokho marauding from the back, playmaker Miralem Pjanic (5.00 to score) in midfield and Lisandro Lopez could all score against a Real Madrid defence that has conceded to all the big teams that have played at the Bernabeu this season. AC Milan scored three in October whilst Sevilla claimed two on Saturday night and Iker Casillas has not lived up to his billing in recent weeks as the best goalkeeper in world football.

Much will depend on Guti (3.50 to score) and Esteban Granero who come in for Alonso and Marcelo whilst Rafael van der Vaart (3.00 to score) showed just what a talent he is with a game changing cameo role against Sevilla. Alvaro Arbeloa has called on the Bernabeu fans to create noise “like Anfield” and this could well be a tense evening.

Probably the most nervous person in the stadium will be Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. The Galactico 2.0 policy came about due to the struggles in Europe, particularly at this stage, where last season Liverpool emerged as winners against Los Blancos on an aggregate score of 5-0.

In total 250 million euros were spent in the summer and all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka (2.37 to score) on a huge night for the club. They will probably progress to the quarter-finals but it could well be a close run thing and drama of the sort we saw on Saturday night is to be expected.

101gg predicts: Real Madrid 3 – Lyon 1 (9.50)

Real Madrid 1.28; Draw 5.10; Lyon 9.00