Saturday 16 December 2017

Mourinho's return from ban a Real lift -- Casillas

Jamie Holland

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho will return to the dugout at the Bernabeu tonight for the visit of Lyon as his UEFA touchline ban comes to an end.

The controverials Portuguese-born 'Special One' was suspended from the dug-out for European games following his actions in last season's acrimonious semi-final defeat by Barcelona.

Real Madrid will look to continue their faultless start to the Champions League group stages against a familiar foe. Madrid and Lyon have met in the knockout rounds in the last two seasons, with Lyon edging the last-16 tie in 2010 and Madrid taking revenge at the same stage last year.

And goalkeeper Iker Casillas believes that having Mourinho back in the dugout will be a massive bonus to the team.

"With Mourinho, there's a more direct form of communicating with the players," he said. "If he wants to correct something, it's much easier. I can see Mourinho is more ambitious than last year. And the players also want to do better than the past."

Mourinho believes that getting a result against Lyon will be a big task.

"We are going to meet the same Lyon team as always," he said. "The trainers and players might change, but they are always a team that's serious, rigorous, good tactically, defensively strong and fantastic from dead balls."

Madrid striker Karim Benzema is fit to face his former team, although he may struggle to break into Mourinho's starting line-up after Gonzalo Higuain scored his third hat-trick in four games for club and country in last Saturday's 4-1 win against Real Betis. But Benzema had also started the season in impressive form, scoring five goals in nine appearances before picking up a groin injury that kept him sidelined for around two weeks.

Mourinho also has Angel di Maria available after suspension, with the Argentinian likely to compete for a starting berth with Brazilian playmaker Kaka.

"Higuain is fine and Karim too, they're both ready to play," Mourinho said. "It's normal that everyone wants to play and make the starting line-up. My objective is to unite, not divide. We play as a team, we win and we lose as a team."

Mourinho has few injury worries but will certainly be without defender Raul Albiol, who fractured his left cheekbone in Spain training last week, while long-term absentee Nuri Sahin and Ricardo Carvalho are also out.

Lyon, two points behind Madrid in Group D after starting with a draw at Ajax and a win over Dinamo Zagreb, have captain Cris and playmaker Yoann Gourcuff returning from injury for the clash with Madrid.

Real Madrid v Lyon,

Live, Setanta Sports 1, 7.45

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