Olympique Lyonnais 0-0 Barcelona
FC Barcelona have long been considered the giants of European football. They are one of the winningest teams in Spanish football, are regular fixtures in the Champions League, have one of the biggest stars in Lionel Messi, they play at the famous Camp Nou in the picturesque heart of Catalonia.
However, they experienced nothing but frustration when they played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. Not a single person in Barcelona’s attack-heavy XI was able to crack past the Ligue 1 side’s defensive approach to this game.
One of our dear colleagues made the right call in spite of the more popular Lyon vs Barcelona predictions calling for a narrow Barca victory. However, not everyone had his guts to call this game as a bore draw.
Highlights of the game
I’m pretty sure that the majority of the 57,889 supporters at Parc Olympique Lyonnais were nervous when Barca’s starting XI was released. Messi is already a problem in itself and is an instrumental cog in the way Barcelona have succeeded in La Liga.
The fact that he is joined up front by Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele was enough to convince Bruno Genesio to pit two defensive midfielders as reinforcements to the backline. Tanguy NDombele and Houssem Aouar’s inclusion in the starting lineup is a testament to the supreme attacking talents of Barca.
And it seems like Genesio’s decision was the right one as the Blaugrana started the game in high gear. Dembele, who has become a revelation in the team’s Champions League campaign, tried a quick shot after beating the defence in the very first minute. However, his attempt flew wide of the right post.
The Argentine superstar was the next man to have a crack at the goal with a fifth-minute free-kick right at the edge of the 18-yard box. He tried a cheeky shot to the top-left corner, but that wasn’t any problem at all for Anthony Lopes and the Lyon defence.
From that point on, it was pretty clear to everyone that it would be a matter of Messi and friends vs the Lyonnais defence. Messi and Dembele were at the forefront as they tried to break past the crowded defence and get the all-important away goal.
Lyon players try to hinder Lionel Messi’s free kick during their Champions League match against Barcelona
Lyon didn’t just accept Barca’s attacks, though. Both Aouar and Martin Terrier unleashed blitzing shot attempts after Messi’s free kick, but both of those were stopped by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Lyon’s Dembele put Terrier through at the end of the first half to set him up with a one-on-one with Ter Stegen. Unfortunately for him, his shot flew over the bar.
The reset had more of the same thing. Barcelona tried to catch Lyon off-guard by some skilful plays from Messi and Dembele. However, they just could not get past the Lyonnais backline as they crowded the penalty box to choke out the passing lanes and force them to take difficult shots.
Even the most neutral fans can see that Messi was starting to get frustrated with the game. While no Lyon shirt could ever hope to keep up with him, they have made the simple task of getting the ball to the back of the net a Sisyphean endeavour.
Luis Suarez, who was rendered ineffective by Les Gones for a good chunk of the match, managed to put in a strike in the 70th minute after Jordi Alba spotted him open in the middle of the box. However, he slipped and didn’t get to fire a perfect shot, resulting in him getting denied by the left post.
Philippe Coutinho and Jordi Alba also tried forcing a late goal, but it was too little, too late. The Parc Olympique Lyonnais enthusiastically applauded their men for a job well done. After all, keeping Barcelona goalless is a feat in itself, adding to the list of interesting Champions League 2019 results.
The question now lies as to whether they can score on the pitch of Camp Nou.
Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona were extremely wasteful with the football. They had possession for almost 60% of the match, managing to produce 24 shot attempts. However, only five of those shots were on target while the rest were either miles off or blocked by the defence. This was especially true in the second half as Lyon barely managed to hold the ball at all.
This result also puts Barcelona on a worrying trend: the Blaugrana have drawn four of their last five matches and failed to score in both of their last away games.
It may be time to bring back the False Nine Messi for the second leg.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde looks upset following his side’s 0-0 draw with Lyon in the Champions League
Valverde himself admitted that Barcelona are now in dangerous territory after failing to secure an away goal in Lyon. The us Champions League 2019 markets are currently in an uproar as the possibility of Barcelona’s early exit looms ever closer.
They will have a chance to secure their progress to the quarter-final when they welcome Lyon in March, but they would have to better their form by then. They must dominate their coming fixtures against Sevilla, Girona, and Rayo Vallecano. Two El Clasico matches also await Barca when they play Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey and the league.
Lyon also have a tough match coming up against Monaco. But besides that, everything would be smooth sailing for them until March 14th.
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