Lyon v. Barcelona Champions League
This is part of our Champions League coverage, as always, there’s more on our Champions League page!
FC Barcelona, winner of Group B, will face off against the runner up of Group F, Lyon, for a chance to proceed further in the competition. Barcelona is no stranger to success in these sorts of competitions, while Lyon is relatively less well known for their Champions League success.
Lyon didn’t break the glass ceiling on Ligue 1 until the turn of the century, however, when they did it was in route to seven consecutive titles. However their best Champions League finish was as a runner up after that epic run (one year later).
Lyon are currently in third place in the League through 21 games. They are only 3 points behind second place Lille, but then there’s a 13-point gap between them and PSG. Lyon hasn’t shown particular weaknesses either at home or away this season, with their form 4th- and 5th- place respectively. The goals scored are similar in both places, however, they have conceded 9 more goals on the road.
Lyon’s form at home in the Champions League has frankly, left a lot to be desired. They had 3 draws at home in the group stage (in what’s reportedly the third-easiest group). At home they are even on goal differential, both conceding and scoring an average of 2 goals per match. Lyon won’t be able to count on going goal for goal with Barcelona and, as a result, will really need to tighten things up in the back.
Barcelona is another of the prestigious clubs that have had huge successes in Continental competition. A lot of the success in Spain had been shared between Barcelona and their rivals, Real Madrid. A third competitor has started to emerge in the recent past, but the other two have a monopoly on La Liga successes.
Barcelona has been able to seize control of Li Liga since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. There is now a fairy substantial gap between the two major rivals (with Atletico Madrid sandwiched in between). Barcelona has just unloaded on the rest of the league, they have been scoring goals seemingly at will while conceding only a few. They almost seem like a runaway for the league, but there are still a lot of games to play.
Barcelona secured 14 of their 18 possible points in the Champions League with one draw each at home and away. Overall they are scoring more than two goals per game and conceding less than one. I don’t want to oversell the “weakness” that Barcelona has on the road, but they have managed 2.34 goals scored per game and 1.34 goals allowed. While the goals against are especially pronounced against their 0.3 goals allowed per game at home, neither concession rate is substantial.
What to expect
Lyon has shown shown a penchant of giving up goals on the road. Lyon will have to be attacking, but cautious as they attempt to thwart Messi and company. Barcelona always prides themselves in playing attacking soccer, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. Barcelona will definitely have opportunities to counterattack Lyon as they try to build a lead going into the away leg. Camp Nou will be rocking and they’ll probably need all the help they can get, a strong first leg result would definitely be a boon.