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Long road to Madrid?

Much-travelled Lyon vow to make history

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Delayed en route by a series of traffic jams, the Olympique Lyon party had been on the road for seven and a half hours before reaching Stuttgart on Monday evening. The French club’s squad, forced to travel in ten minibuses by the current flight restrictions, set out for Munich on Tuesday morning. And by the time they reached the Bavarian capital, they had all but forgotten the stresses of the journey.

“We’ve arrived in Munich with the sun in the sky and smiles on our faces. We’re really up for the match,” declared keeper Hugo Lloris ahead of his side’s pre-match workout at the Allianz Arena. His coach was equally relaxed about the trip. “It wasn’t the first time we’ve travelled this week. We spent the whole night on the bus after playing Bordeaux. And we’ve got to know the German countryside,” deadpanned Claude Puel.

Puel keen to stifle FCB

Despite their travails, Olympique are out to enjoy the first Champions League semi-final in their history. “Think positive,” Lloris beamed. “It’s all a mental thing. We’ve coped well and the journey wasn’t boring. Now we’re ready for the match.”

The Lyon number one played in 2008 when he and his team-mates drew 1-1 with Bayern at the Allianz Arena. The men from the Rhone Valley would be happy with a similar outcome this time. “Bayern are on a roll. We know it’ll be tough,” said Lloris. Puel spoke of FCB’s “terrific individual class,” but the 48-year-old was in determined mood: “We can disrupt them.”

Lopez fit to train

The coach must solve a couple of thorny selection problems. Experienced defenders Matthieu Bodmer and Jean-Alain Bomsong are missing, and no fewer then seven of his players are just one yellow card away from suspension. Puel said that was “not a factor. We won’t hold back.” On the plus side, top striker Lisandro Lopez should be fit to play. The goal-getter sustained a painful foot injury in Bordeaux, but completed the pre-match training session.

“We can make history,” Lloris stated. The French side are as resolute as the Bavarians in their desire to contest the final in Madrid. “Why should our campaign end in the semis?” noted Puel. He and his team are certainly familiar with the Bernabeu stadium. Olympique beat Real 1-0 at home, and then drew 1-1 in Madrid to pull off the shock result of the Round of 16.