Despite two wins in two Champions League outings, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho faces a selection headache for Tuesday’s clash against Lyon with free-scoring Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema vying for a starting place.
On Saturday, Higuain scored his third hat-trick in four games in the 4-1 win over Real Betis to follow triples against Espanyol, in the league, and on World Cup duty for Argentina against Chile.
He now has eight goals in La Liga.
But Benzema, already with five goals in all competitions this season and an unused substitute on Saturday, will be keen to face his old club.
After Saturday’s game Mourinho was drawn into the debate on who is his main striker.
“Higuain is better than before and between him and Benzema it is difficult to talk about who is the sub and who plays,” he said.
“They are two very different forwards with one thing in common — they both score goals.”
Tuesday’s pairing of the two teams in the competition is fast becoming an annual event with them meeting in four of the past six campaigns.
Last season Madrid got the upper hand over their French rivals and progressed to the quarter finals 4-1 on aggregate.
A year earlier, at the same stage, it was Lyon who went through, with a 1-1 draw in Madrid proving enough after a goalless draw in the first leg in France.
On Sunday, 20 Madrid players trained ahead of the game in the Santiago Bernabeu, the biggest test so far this season of Madrid’s ambitions to lift the European Cup for a record 10th time.
Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, Lass Diarra and Nuri Sahin are the only players in Mourinho’s squad that are unavailable for selection.
Mourinho will also be happy with the form of Brazilian star Kaka who used the recent international break to intensify his training schedule. His performance and goal on Saturday seemed to justify the decision.
The win over Betis left Madrid one point behind Barcelona and surprise package Levante at the top of La Liga.
Lyon also enjoyed a comfortable Saturday beating bottom club Nancy 3-1 in their Stade Gerland and remain joint-second in the French league with Montpellier, three points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Two goals – one a powerful free-kick and a penalty – from Michel Bastos and the seventh goal of the season from Bafetimbi Gomis were enough to seal victory.
Lyon coach Remi Garde admitted afterwards that his team probably played with “Madrid on our minds”.
After a 0-0 draw with Ajax in Holland and a 2-0 victory at home over Dynamo Zagreb the French side currently sit in second place in Group D, two points behind Madrid.
A point in the Santiago Bernabeu will be the least the French side will hope for in their quest to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages for the ninth season running.