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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 14, 2006

Real Madrid blame fitness levels after mauling in Lyon

MADRID, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Real Madrid's Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro blamed his side's fitness levels after their 2-0 defeat to Olympique Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday.

'We played very badly and Lyon were much quicker than us particularly in the first half,' Cannavaro said.

'I think the problem is basically a question of fitness. I see this as the important factor more than lapses in concentration.'

Italy's World Cup-winning captain may still have been thinking about Lyon's opening goal, when a long pass from Juninho caught him out allowing Fred to speed past him to score.

Sidney Govou set up Tiago through a ragged defence for Lyon's second in the 31st minute.

Uncertain at the back and ponderous in midfield, Real did not get into the game until the second half and even then rarely threatened the home goal.

Worryingly for Real coach Fabio Capello it was the players brought in to add steel to the team during the summer, namely Cannavaro, Emerson and former Lyon player Mahamadou Diarra who appeared most at sea.

Real's best player on the night was goalkeeper Iker Casillas who made a number of important saves to deny Lyon further goals.

'They are a very strong team. They were very quick up front and on the counter, and grew in confidence with the number of chances they created,' said Casillas.

'They were in better shape than us and this was clear to see on the pitch. We have to look to take the positives from the game but in all honesty there were very few.'

It is the third time in three years the nine-times European Champions have suffered demoralising defeats on the opening day of the group stages of their Champions League campaigns.

Last September they fell 3-0 to Lyon under Vanderlei Luxemburgo and the year before coach Jose Antonio Camacho quit soon after a 3-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.

Real's next game in Group E is at home to Dynamo Kiev on Sept 26, when Lyon travel to face Steaua Bucharest.