Real aiming to break Lyon record
Real Madrid may approach the second leg of their last 16 Champions League tie against Lyon as favourites but there will also be a sense of trepidation ahead of Wednesday's game.
The Spanish side have the upper hand after drawing 1-1 at the Stade de Gerland three weeks ago yet they will be mindful of the aggregate victory that the Ligue One team recorded against them at the same stage of the competition last season.
That result was achieved thanks to a 1-0 win in France and a 1-1 draw in Madrid and continued a remarkable record that together with this season's encounter, means Lyon are now unbeaten in seven matches against the nine-time European Cup winners.
It also sustained a run in which Real have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2004.
Much has changed since last spring, of course. Only four Real players who started against Lyon recently also featured in the Bernabeu game last season. The club has a new manager too, with Jose Mourinho aiming to be the first coach to win the Champions League with three different clubs.
Factor in a 21-game home winning stretch this season and even though they are without the likes of Sami Khedira and Kaka, many observers would expect the Spanish side to progress.
Lyon have already proven to be intelligent opponents though. Last season's draw in Madrid had a huge element of fortune given that Gonzalo Higuain hit the post with the goal gaping and could have had a hat-trick.
But in many senses it was a tactical victory for Lyon coach Claude Puel, who altered his team's shape after the break following a first-half onslaught from the hosts.
"We changed the system and totally reshuffled the team," Puel said after the game. "Miralem Pjanic moved up to support Lisandro Lopez, and that made us more fluid. On top of that, Pjanic scored the goal.
"We were in trouble as they played quickly from deep and had a bit of luck when they hit the post. But we changed the system in the second half and played 10 metres higher as Madrid were tiring having produced lots of effort before the break.
"We were more fluid, there was more quality in our game. We could play wider and made them run as they enjoy having the ball at their feet."
Although Jean Alain Boumsong (4) and Jean Makoun (17) were forced off with injuries, comparing Lyon's average player positions for the first and second half shows how much further they were stationed up the pitch.
It also shows the positional change adopted by Pjanic (8) as well as the influence of Kim Kallstrom (6), who was involved in many of Lyon's late counter-attacks.
Worth noting, too, is the change in position of Jeremy Toulalan (28), who reverted to centre-back, and Cesar Delgado (19), who along with Lisandro Lopez (9), had chances to put the game beyond doubt late on.
Eight of the Lyon team who played in the first leg this season were involved in the second leg last term so they will take confidence into this week's tie despite the loss of the influential Brazilian Michel Bastos. Nevertheless, Toulalan believes there will a clear difference.
"Everyone is sharing the same positive state of mind at the moment," he said. "But even if we did it again like last season, Real Madrid has improved defensively. Last year, their central defence was left abandoned."
After seven Champions League matches this season, Real have conceded just three goals compared to eight at the same stage last term. They have also increased the number of tackles they have made from 138 to 200 while maintaining the same success rate (78%).
A lot could hinge on the return of Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo who has been nursing a thigh injury but Mourinho can also count on former Lyon striker Karim Benzema, who scored in the first leg against his old team and has five goals in six European appearances this season.
Mourinho has been glowing in his praise of the French forward but the Portuguese coach is under no illusions about the scale of his side's task.
"Lyon are a very good team with experience and tradition in the Champions League," he said. "We will have to be in optimum form."
Any significant errors like last time and Mourinho's dream of adding a 10th European Cup title to Real's haul could be in tatters. And with a five-point deficit to Barcelona in La Liga, it could mean a quicker than expected exit for the former Chelsea boss.