Will Lyon bring Real back to reality?

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BLOGSWAP! Ahead of the Real Madrid vs Lyon game,'s La Liga Loca stalwart Tim Stannard explains why tonight's game could spell the end of a very expensive dream

The director of Marca is not so much tempting fate as parading Penelope Cruz in front of it with €500 bills stuck to her a**e.

With the dubious declaration that Real Madrid’s narrower-than-Jesus-Navas’-horizons victory over Sevilla on Saturday night had kicked off “a new chapter in the story of the greatest team in history,” Eduardo Inda has surely delivered another early departure from the Champions League for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

After all, the Madridista press has been here before. Three weeks ago the victory-predicting vibe in the Spanish capital was that Real would surely break their five years of knockout failure and move through to the quarter-finals.

FEATURE, Tue Feb 16: Madrid ready for their annual knock-out round

Florentino Pérez’s prize-fighters were on an unstoppable path that would end with La Décima in the Santiago Bernabeu. What’s more, all they were facing in the Round of 16 clash was a side cursed with being both French and not very good to boot.

But then it turned out that Lyon were considerably better than everyone thought and Real Madrid were a lot worse.

FEATURE, Wed Feb 17: Knock-out curse threatens Pellegrini and Pérez

However, that truth simply wasn’t tolerated by the media-controlling Madrid masters.

So the local press blamed Mahamadou Diarra rather than Cristiano and Kaká for the deserved 1-0 defeat in the Stade Gerland and went back to applauding their €250m men as they taught the likes of Tenerife lessons they would never forget.

Fall guy: Not the only hack to trouble Diarra

This inability to face unpalatable reality has returned in force this week, with Marca and AS seeing subsequent victories over Villarreal, the Canary Island club and Sevilla as proof positive that Lyon will be fed to the lions on Wednesday night.

The fact that Madrid did not manage that rather crucial away goal has been ignored.

The fact that lower-league Alcorcón held Madrid for 81 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu has been ignored.

The fact that the only three decent teams who have played in Madrid’s home this season - Milan, Villarreal and Sevilla - have scored seven goals has been ignored.

Heck, even the fact that ever-reliable Guti is set to start in place of the suspended Xabi Alonso has been ignored.

Instead, the visitors to the Bernabeu on Wednesday are “going to experience an inferno,” warns Marca on the notoriously hostile Santiago Bernabeu which only really gets narky when either Madrid aren’t winning after 22 minutes or the overhead heaters aren’t turned on.

“It will be a thrilling atmosphere with the crowd backing them for 90 minutes and wearing down the moral of the rival team,” continues the paper. “Lyon could feel frustration and panic.”

The truth is that only Real Madrid will be experiencing frustration and panic on Wednesday night. Wafting down the Castellano along with the overwhelming whiff of Cristiano Ronaldo’s aftershave, the Santiago Bernabeu is producing a tangible smell of fear.

The fear of becoming the laughing stock of Europe, having shipped the globe’s greatest to Spain only for them to be good enough to overcome Espanyol.

The fear of Florentino Pérez that his side will remain sidelined in Europe for another season.

And the fear that a Champions League disaster could give Barcelona all the incentive they could ever need to lift the trophy once again in the Santiago Bernabeu.

The French Connection's James Horncastle guests on La Liga Loca: Real stake their money on Lyon surrender

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