If revenge is a dish best served cold, Real Madrid CF captain Iker Casillas is happy to keep it on ice after the Liga side were pitted against Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the second successive campaign.
Beaten 1-0 in Lyon in the first leg last term, before mustering only a 1-1 draw back at the Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid subsequently tumbled out of the competition at the first knockout hurdle. Friday's draw in Nyon presented them with the perfect chance to get their own back, beginning with a return to Stade de Gerland on 22 February.
"Of course we are looking forward to playing against them because they knocked us out last season, but we're not looking at this as some sort of big revenge match," said goalkeeper Casillas. "
It's an important encounter for us because it's an obstacle we want to get over, but we must maintain respect for a team that might look weaker than us but who ended our hopes last time out. Lyon represent a very serious threat."
Under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini at that time, Madrid have since appointed to the helm José Mourinho, the man who ended FC Internazionale Milano's 45-year wait for European Champion Clubs' Cup glory in the Spanish capital in May. The Portuguese has taken seamlessly to life at Madrid, losing just once – albeit 5-0 to rivals FC Barcelona – in his 23 games in charge in all competitions.
"Madrid are not the same as they were last year and maybe they want some revenge after what happened," said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. "It's going to be difficult to qualify but we will prepare as best we can – we hope to put on a good show. They will be stronger but Lyon will be stronger too. Beating Madrid last year gave us a huge boost. We still have a lot of ambition at this club and we all remember how we felt when we reached the semi-finals last season."
Aulas's sentiments were echoed by Lyon's players, with striker Bafétimbi Gomis admitting he feared the "skills" of Mourinho. "It'll be a completely different game – Real are not the same team any more." Goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre is equally wary of what lies in wait. "Last year they were complacent," he added. "They still haven't got over it. We know we are not favourites."
Cautiously confident, Los Merengues' technical director Emilio Butragueño knows the Ligue 1 outfit were not relishing the prospect of renewing acquaintances. "Before the draw, I was speaking with the Lyon representatives and they were telling me they didn't want to come up against us," he said. "But they said that last year and ended up knocking us out. We've lost all our games over there and now it's time to put that right. Let's see how we are at that stage in the season, but if we have everyone in perfect condition we will be very hopeful of advancing to the quarter-finals."
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