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Lyon: Dark Horse or Firm Favorite?

It might be a little unfair to call Olympique Lyonnais a dark horse to win this season's Champions League. After all, Lyon comes into Europe's top club competition as France's champion for the fifth year running, a domestic feat no club in the world has approached in recent memory. In the Champions League, Lyon has stormed its way into the quarterfinals for the last three years, finishing top of its group in each instance, ahead of the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. This year, Lyon looks certain to top Real Madrid again, after handily beating the Spanish giants, 2-0, at home in the first game. The French champion has a maximum nine points from three games, and has yet to concede a goal. But the players are keeping their heads on the ground. "We made a step towards qualification for the knockout stage," France defender Francois Clerc told reporters after yesterday's 3-0 trouncing of Dynamo Kiev. With the likes of Juninho Pernambucano, Tiago, Florent Malouda and Alou Diarra pulling the strings in midfield, Lyon is a firm favorite to repeat as champion of France for the sixth time (it is five points ahead of second-place Olympique Marseille). It now needs just three points from its remaining three games to guarantee qualification to the second round of the Champions League.

Read the whole story at Reuters UK »

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