Why Barcelona Should Worry Facing Lyon Ahead Of Champions League Last 16 Tie
When the draws of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 were made, every supporters of FC Barcelona was relieved because their club had successfully avoided facing the European giants like Manchester United, Liverpool, among many other Title winning names.
But is it really a relief to face Lyon? But this is football more than that this is the UEFA Champions League, and Catalan giants know better than any other fan base as they lost to similar opponents As Roma in UCL quarter final tie in 2017/18, that every team that has qualified for the last 16 is more than capable of going through.
It’s Not Going to Be An Easy Task For FC Barcelona:
Olympique Lyonnais were the only unbeaten team in their group F with 5 draws and one win. They didn’t lose to Pep Guardiola’s Mighty Manchester City over 2 legs even they defeated Man City in the home of the current Premier League Champions. The likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Bertrand Traore, Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir are all players with a electrifying pace and great shooting ability. Knowing Barcelona shaky at the back and Pique’s lack of pace, this is going to be a major worry for Valverde.
To mount the problems for Barcelona, Luis Suarez’s and new signing Kevin Prince-Boateng’s horror show against Valladolid is cause of serious concern for the Clues. Barcelona created all the chances but couldn’t finish in the final third, there is no place for such errors in the Champions League. To make matters even worse, Messi’s finishing too has been a shadow for over three weeks.
The presence of a relient midfielder against a team like Lyon that likes to press the opponent high and launch wolfish counters is a necessity. But Arthur’s untimely injury has left Valverde in a big conundrum, as he will now have to start the relatively inexperienced Carles Alena in a massive game. However, Arthur should be available for the home leg, which could prove to be a game changer.
With Nabil Fekir suspended (in the first game), Lyon will most probably pick a 3–4–3 in attack, and a 4–5–1 in defence. This may effectively shut down passing areas for Barcelona, suppress Jordi Alba’s at bay, and make life for Messi and Dembele difficult.
How Can FC Barcelona Overcome Lyon:
Though Olympique Lyon is great in counter attacks, they remain defenceless to counter attacks themselves. They frequently lose the ball in the midfield quite cheaply, compared to most champions league sides. To take advantage of this, Barcelona must play a lightning counter-attacking game. Dembele is going to be one of the crucial players for the Blaugranes. Though Suarez provides a lot off the ball with his pressing, his lack of pace will prove to be a liability in counter attacks. Malcolm could be a vital option for Valverde to consider.
One wingback (Semedo preferably) has to play on a lower line, to break Lyon’s counter attacks. As usual, Messi is the threat for Lyon. Given his loyalty to the Nou Camp regarding the UCL, he will definitely up his level in a crucial games. Bruno Genesio has made it pretty clear that Messi will be man-marked, but that’s one of the most difficult feat to perform for any player, because Messi keeps running all over the pitch.
Alena’s attacking game will be helpful, but he has to add the defence too. Unless the defence is a progressive effort, Barcelona stand no chance in the first leg.
Clearly, there is no room for margin of errors for Valverde’s moody Barcelona. All the players have to be sharp with full fitness, which more often than not, they aren’t. If you see a shiftless performance, stay prepared for a major upset.
Valverde has proven to be a great tactician in massive games and hopefully, he can pull off a managerial masterclass when it matters the most.