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Leaky Lyon defence set for testing time from Ronaldo

Lyon will find out tonight whether their shaky defence has improved or not when they try to stop tournament top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team-mates in the Champions League.

After a mid-season slump, Lyon have won four of their past five French league games, conceding only two goals, but keeping the Portuguese star quiet in the first leg of the Champions League knockout round at Stade Gerland represents a far bigger challenge.

Ronaldo added another two goals in the Spanish league against Xerez on Saturday, taking his tally to 17 in 17 games this season, including six in the Champions League.

"I already played against him when he was at Manchester United," Lyon's Brazilian defender Cris said. "It's not easy; you need a lot of experience."

Having failed to reach the quarter-finals in the past five years, Real Madrid are obsessed with making the final this season, as it will be held at their home ground, the Bernabeu.

"We have to beat Lyon, all the players are ready for it," Ronaldo said. "I have played in Lyon a few times and I know it is a difficult place, but it's not impossible."

Brazil midfielder Kaka set up Ronaldo for both of his goals Saturday, putting an end to doubts as to whether the two could combine effectively.

There are both good and bad precedents for Real Madrid ahead of tonight's game: Lyon managed to hold Manchester United and Barcelona to home draws in the past two years, but both those clubs went on to win the competition.

The last 16 has proved a stumbling block for Lyon, who haven't reached the quarter-finals since 2006. Lyon were crushed 5-2 in the away leg in Barcelona last year, suggesting Lyon need to win by a comfortable margin tonight if they are to win over two legs.

For Lyon coach Claude Puel, Madrid pose a different kind of threat than Barca.

"There is no comparison with the Barca game last year. Real are a different team," Puel said. "Their teamwork may not be as good but they have better individuals."

As well as Ronaldo and Kaka, Madrid's attacking force boasts Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema. Higuain has scored 12 league goals, Benzema has seven and was finding his best form when he was hit by an adductor injury.

Benzema, who scored 72 goals in 172 games for Lyon, passed a late fitness test and is raring to play against his old club.

The France striker was an emerging talent when Lyon dispatched Madrid 3-0 at home during the 2005-06 season and then 2-0 the following year. Those defeats will be engraved in the mind of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, and coach Manuel Pellegrini will not be underestimating the seven-time French champions.

Lyon v Real Madrid

live setanta ireland/sky sports 3 (ko 7.45)


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