Lyon v. FC Barcelona (Champions League Game)
Leg 1 ended in a 0-0 draw, but both sides had some chances. Lyon nearly took the lead right at the end of the first half as Terrier smashed a shot against the goal post. Barcelona and Ter Stegen breathed a sigh of relief. This game featured 29 total shots, even if only seven were on target; however, there were also nine shots blocked, and one hit the crossbar. So despite the low scoring set up, it looks like it will be a very interesting leg two at Camp Nou.
Lyon is substantial underdogs entering the match at Camp Nou. Part of this is likely from their domestic form (discussed below) which is rather one-sided. That said, Lyon was not far away from a “smash and grab” win at home with a shot by Terrier that was nearly in, only to be denied by the frame. My biggest concern from Lyon right now is how they will approach the game. If they come in attacking, I’m worried that they’ll get annihilated by the counter. If they don’t, one mistake could settle the game. I think the most likely approach is somewhere in the middle if they can keep Barcelona at bay — they may have a chance to get a vital away goal.
As we talked about in our Leg 1 Preview, Lyon has maintained their position in third, but the gap between them and the top spot has grown from 13 points to 21 points. The gap between Lyon and second-place Lille has also grown from three to seven points. Lyon’s Achilles heel this season has been their away form, they’ve managed 20 points from 14 games to date. They actually have a negative goal differential away from home too (-1) with 21 goals scored and 22 conceded. That breaks down about 1.5 goals scored per game and conceding 1.6 goals, which is not a recipe for success. They have been much better at home securing 30 points in 14 games. They also have a +15 goal difference in home games, in these circumstances they’ve averaged nearly two goals scored per game while conceding only one.
Shockingly, in the Champions League, Lyon has actually secured more points in away games. In the group stages, Lyon managed three draws at home with two goals scored and two goals conceded on average. They managed 5 points from away games (1 win and two draws) with a positive (albeit +1 goal differential). The goals scored are largely the same although the goals conceded slightly decreased. One of the home draws was to eventual group winner, Manchester City and in the return to the Etihad, Lyon actually triumphs over the group winners. While the oddsmakers aren’t giving much chance to Lyon, I’m pretty certain they didn’t expect OL to overcome Manchester City either.
Players to watch:
– Moussa Dembele: Dembele has been the main scorer for Lyon in the Ligue 1. However, his contributions in the Champions League have been much, much less. In the League 1, he’s averaged basically one goal for every two matches in which he’s featured. The Champions League he’s managed one goal in five appearances and hasn’t really provided any help for his team. If they are to cause an upset, he will need to show up with a vengeance and wreak some havoc.
– Memphis Depay: Depay has been excellent for Lyon. He has contributed eight goals in the Ligue 1 and four more in the Champions League. He’s also managed to place a respectable number of shots into the back of the net, six in the Ligue 1 and another in the Champions League. Depay has been one of the most important features for the Lyon side providing assists for anyone available to finish them off.
– Tanguy NDombele: NDombele has been yet another provider of assists for Lyon. He’s provided five assists in the domestic league and has been called into a bigger role in the Champions League with Dembele’s disappearance. He’s been forced to provide two goals for Lyon in the Champions League, but they are likely to need all hands on deck for a shot at the upset.
Barcelona was underwhelming in the first leg of this game, but I’m not expecting the same in Leg 2. Barcelona has run laps around most of their competition they’ve faced so far. They’ve been able to score goals seemingly at will while being respectful defensively. Their opponent, however, has really struggled away from home and have barely been able to score more than they’ve allowed. Putting money on arguably one of the greatest players of all time in Leo Messi and his supporting cast seems slightly asinine.
For the most part, Barcelona’s return to the Champions League next year is nearly certain. There’s an 18-point cushion between the currently first-placed Barcelona and fourth-placed Getafe. Barcelona rests comfortably at the top of the league with a seven-point gap to Atletico Madrid and 12-point gap between Barcelona and their arch-rival Real Madrid. Barcelona has been rampant in the league, numbering almost three goals scored for every 1 conceded.
Barcelona has split their matches right down in the middle in the Champions League with two wins and a draw both at home and on the road in the group stage. Moreover, now, in the elimination games, they’ve found a draw in the first leg. Barcelona scores the same number of goals regardless of location; however, the number conceded is a stark contrast. At home, they’ve conceded only one solitary goal, where on the road they’ve conceded four. What I’m alluding to is that Barcelona (and the oddsmakers) are like feeling pretty confident heading into this home leg. They concede about 0.25 goals per game at home in the Champions League although this is somewhat different from their domestic campaign where they actually concede less away.
Players to watch:
– Lionel Messi: Where to start with Messi… Ah yes, let’s start with he is arguably one of the best players ever. His production in La Liga is borderline ridiculous; he’s scored 26 goals (in 25 appearances), and if that’s not enough, he’s also provided 12 assists. If it’s possible, he’s improved upon his goal-scoring prowess scoring six goals in 5 appearances along with an assist. The fact that Messi avoided the scoresheet in one game is hard to fathom (and the statistics support it), expecting him to do so again is borderline foolishness.
– Luis Suarez: Suarez ability has never been in doubt, his temperament, however, has. That said, he’s come a long way since biting Giorgio Chiellini at the last World Cup. His Champions League production has fallen off somewhat providing zero goals and two assists. It’s a far cry from the 17 goals and five assists in 26 appearances, but like Messi — it might be a sign that something else is coming.
– Jordi Alba: Alba, despite being employed most often as a defender has been a great asset from the back line. He’s produced seven assists, and a goal in La Liga, but perhaps more impressive is that he’s managed a far better return. He’s provided a goal and three assists across six appearances. I anticipate that Alba have a particularly good game as I think Barcelona’s damage will be done on the counter.
What to expect:
Have no illusions; I think there is zero chance of this game ending in a 0-0 (yes, I know… technically it can’t). I would be shocked if it made to full time at 0-0. I think this game is going to feature much scoring. And I think most of it will be done by Barcelona as Lyon just hasn’t shown me they are someone to be feared. Barcelona has been substantially better at home, has scored goals like they are going out of style, and haven’t conceded all that many. I’m trying hard to envision a scenario in which OL comes out on top, but, like the bookies, I think my money has to go for Barcelona. I feel like relying on Messi to go barren in two games (back-to-back nonetheless) is playing odds that are stacked against you, like cheating with pocket aces sort of stacked against you.
Last Updated: March 12, 2019