Real Madrid face their toughest opponent in Group D when second-placed Olymipique Lyon visits the Santiago Bernabeu for their UEFA Champions League tie on Tuesday.
Madrid head the group after wins in their previous two matches -- 1-0 at Dynamo Zagreb and 3-0 against Ajax at the Bernabeu -- and are looking to grab an early advantage in their attempt to progress to the knockout round.
They come to this game on the back of a 4-1 mauling of Real Betis in the league, and Jose Mourinho's men seem to have put behind their early-season inconsistency. The currently sit at third in the league, behind Barcelona and surprisingly, Levante, who share points at the top.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Mourinho set his side the target of qualifying as soon as possible.
The important thing is winning,'' Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference. Last year we got 10 points in the first four games and with these points we qualified.
It is not easy to win games in the Champions League and now we have a start of six points.
Winning the group may have a slight advantage in the draw for the next round. We want to qualify as soon as possible and advance further in the Champions League than we did last year.''
However, they face a side who has given them considerable cause to worry. In the six times Madrid faced Lyon over the past three seasons (including the two-legged knockout round matches in the last two seasons and in the group stages in the one before), Real won only the most recent tie. They have drawn one and lost twice in three away games at Lyon.
It's a fact which hasn't gone unnoticed by Lyon coach Remi Garde who stated that they were Madrid's worst enemy in recent times.
There is a strange link between the two clubs and draws, Garde told Uefa.com. For us it is obviously a very difficult tie, but for Real Madrid as well because we've been their worst enemy in the last few years.
Since the arrival of Jose Mourinho they have a team which is more experienced than in the past. They have a team that can make a difference at any time.
We know one of their players very well - Karim Benzema.''
Benzema, who moved to Madrid from Lyon in the summer of 2009, has returned to full fitness but could find it hard to displace Gonzalo Higuain who has been in red-hot form coming into this game. The Argentine has scored three hat-tricks in his last four matches, including one for Argentina during the international break.
Mourinho will also find it hard to bench another in-form player, Kaka, who grasped at his opportunity when Angel di Maria was sidelined with injury. Now that di Maria has made his return, Mourinho will have some unenviable tinkering to do.
Real will be without Nuri Sahin and Raul Albiol while Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira are doubtful.
Lyon will be deprived of Argentinean forward Lisandro Lopez and midfield duo Clement Grenier and Jeremy Pied, all of whom are injured.
Although Lyon have troubled Madrid in the past few seasons, Real are a different side under Jose Mourinho. So much to the extent that anything apart from a comfortable Madrid victory will be considered a shock.
Real Madrid 3-0 Lyon.