Barcelona will host Lyon in the Champions League Round of 16 second at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. The two sides drew 0-0 in France in the first leg, and both teams will be hopeful of progressing to the quarter-finals.
With all due respect to Lyon, the home side will go into the match as clear favourites. Barcelona are aiming for the treble this season, and it looks to be firmly in their capabilities. They hold a seven-point at the top of the La Liga, and they have already reached the Copa Del Rey final where they will face Valencia. The Champions League also looks like a more manageable task after the likes of Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were knocked out prematurely.
Barcelona won 3-1 against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, and the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic were rested then. They will return against Lyon, as Philippe Coutinho should drop to the bench. Lionel Messi had a hand in two goals against Rayo, and the Argentine will be crucial for them yet again. No one has scored more than Messi’s 26 goals in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Lyon gave a pretty good account of themselves in the first leg. They defended well and had a few openings of their own as well. They have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in seven seasons. The competition has been a struggle for them in recent years, but the current side is filled to the brim with young talent looking to make an impact.
They drew at the weekend to Strasbourg, as the likes of Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay, and Tanguy Ndombele were rested. Lyon are currently third in the Ligue 1, and a return to the Champions League next season looks highly likely. Coach Bruno Genesio has used the talent at his disposal in brilliant fashion.
Barcelona vs Lyon Match Preview
Genesio’s side beat Manchester City in the group stage, and claimed a draw in the return leg. They play a fast-paced game, which focuses on pressing the opposition with high intensity. It will be interesting to see how the Barcelona side which builds up slowly will deal with them.
Genesio could adopt an attacking approach, as an away goal could swing the tie in their favour decisively. Ernesto Valverde will set Barca up to dominate the game, and keep hold of the ball. Patience has been one of the virtues of Valverde’s side, and their approach has yielded rewards more often than not.
If Lyon go for the jugular, Barcelona might find it tough to deal with the intensity. They prefer a slow pace, and the likes of Messi and Busquets might find it tough against someone like Ndombele.
Barcelona are a more balanced side than Lyon, and their experience should see them through. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet have forged a great partnership, and they should be able to keep Lyon at bay. If trouble arises, Messi is always there to dig them out of trouble.