Barcelona vs. Lyon: Squeaky Bum Time, French Edition

This Wednesday, Lyon face their hardest test of the season – attempting to walk away from Camp Nou with a score draw (or win!). No one had expected Lyon to be in this position in the first place. When Lyon were paired with Barcelona back in December, the outcome seemed certain.

And while a Barcelona win is still a likely scenario, Les Gones do have a fighting chance. The 0-0 draw in the first leg ensured that Barca do not have an away goal, so if Lyon can live up to their reputation – a team that plays its best against superior opposition – perhaps a berth in the quarterfinals is possible after all.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
Camp Nou, Barcelona
4PM EST

Background Info:

Don’t let the scoreless home leg fool you – Barcelona were having a slump but have since recovered. They’ve won four games since then, two of which were against Real Madrid. They are in 1st place in La Liga, a comfortable seven points above second placed Atletico. They’ve won 19, drawn 6, and lost only 2 games, having scored 69 goals and conceded 26. Messi has contributed 26 of those goals himself while also assisting another 12. And those are just their league stats. In the Champions League, they’ve scored 14 goals and conceded 5. Messi again contributed to 6 of those goals.

Barcelona has set their sights on a Champions League win, and all that stands in their way is Lyon. They might have taken their foot off the gas during the first game, but now that they know how troublesome Lyon can be, Ernesto Valverde will be deploying his heaviest hitters.

While Ousmane Dembele remains uncertain (he injured his hamstring last weekend), the fact he’s on the team sheet might indicate this is fake news designed to mislead Lyon. Samuel Umtiti is nearing a return to full fitness, but even if he doesn’t start, Clement Lenglet will take his place.

Boy, those Spanish clubs sure do love French defenders.

Former Lyon academy grad Samuel Umtiti now plays for Barcelona.

Arthur, who missed the first leg, will also be available. Valverde can count on a nearly fit squad, so he will have several options.

Barcelona squad: Ter Stegan, Semedo, Pique, Rakitic, Sergio, Coutinho, Arthur, Suarez, Messi, Dembele, Cillessen, Malcom, Lenglet, Murillo, Alba, Prince, Roberto, Vidal, Umtiti, Alena

One other thing that’s in Barcelona’s favor (like they need anything else) is their record against Lyon – of the 7 times they’ve faced Lyon so far, they have never lost. They won all 3 games at Camp Nou while they won once and drew three times at Lyon. The most recent game at Camp Nou was in 2009, when Barcelona beat Lyon 5-2. But while history is in their favor, there’s always a first time!

Lyon’s fortunes since the first leg have been decidedly more mixed. They lost to Monaco, won against Caen and Toulouse, and drew against Strasbourg. They are still in 3rd place, but the distance between them and Lille has increased to 7 points. With 14 wins, 8 draws, and 6 losses, Lyon have only scored 47 while conceding 33.

Moussa Dembele is the top scorer in the league with 11 goals, the first to break 10. It’s a very sad statistic.

However, with Lyon being as erratic as they are, no one is really surprised. Predictions for the Barcelona game are all over the place, as everything from a masterclass to a disasterclass is possible.

Marcelo did pick up a slight injury against Strasbourg and was taken off in the first half. The club has been quiet and has indicated they will make a game day decision. This might also be fake news – we saw them do so in the first leg with Jason Denayer. It could be designed to throw Valverde off, or Marcelo could actually be injured.

Le groupe lyonnais: Lopes, Gorgelin, Racioppi – Denayer, Marcelo, Morel, Rafael, Dubois, Marcal, Tete, Solet, Mendy – Aouar, Ndombele, Tousart, Cheikh, N. Fekir – Y. Fekir, Terrier, Dembele, Memphis, Traore, Cornet

Rafael is back, as is Jeremy Morel and Marcal. Marcelo was declared uncertain but appears on the team sheet. If Marcelo does sit out, Marcal might need to take his place.

Nabil Fekir is back and ready to save the day.

The GREAT news is that Nabil Fekir is back from suspension. If anyone can help see OL through, it’s this guy.

Possible Lineups:

Marcelo’s injury does make things complicated. With no other CB available (there is Oumer Solet, but it’s universally agreed he is not ready for this match), it looks like it will be a back 3. However, the back 3 hasn’t been very convincing in the matches its been used, which is why Genesio returned to a back 4.

L’Equipe is reporting two possible lineups:

Lopes
Denayer – Marcelo – Marcal
Dubois – Ndombele – Aouar – Mendy
Fekir
Dembele – Memphis

OR

Lopes
Dubois – Denayer – Marcal – Mendy
Ndombele – Tousart
Memphis – Fekir – Aouar
Dembele

It’s basically a mess. There is no way that Valverde can predict what lineup Genesio will come up with, and perhaps that is the secret weapon.

Everything depends on Marcelo’s fitness, but I am leaning towards the second lineup. Lyon suffered without a defensive midfielder in the first leg, as neither Houssem Aouar nor Tanguy Ndombele seemed to make a physical impact in midfield. Adding an extra defender isn’t a good solution, as Lyon aren’t good at playing defensively, and if they want to progress, they need to score. Keeping the game scoreless won’t help anyone.

If they want better attacking opportunities, they’ll need to see more of the ball, and I think Lucas Tousart can help.

Up front, Moussa Dembele will logically be given the start along with Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir. Not sure exactly how they’ll lay out, but I imagine Fekir will sit behind Dembele while Memphis will be free to wander around.

Viewing Options:

  • Canada (DAZN)
  • France (RMC Sport)
  • Mexico (ESPN Norte)
  • United States (Univision Deportes, UniMas, B/R Live)
  • Great Britain (BT Sport Live, BT Sport 3)
  • Other countries

Score Prediction:

Nope. Not gonna go there.

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