Best Odds: 4/5
Lyon return to the knockout stages of the Champions League after seven years and will have their work cut out against the in-form Catalan giants Barcelona.
Six wins in last seven matches means Lyon will head into the Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Barcelona in fine form. Les Goes might be the underdogs in this particular match-up but form and numbers do speak volume of their ability.
Les Goes only lost one of their last 10 European matches this season, while they won 7 and lost only one of 13 they played on home soil internationally. Furthermore, it only happened once – back in 2007 against Roma – that Lyon lost a Champions League Last 16 match in their own backyard. The Tuesday match will be the first time Lyon are hosting Barcelona since 2009. The French will be aiming for their first-ever victory over the Catalans. It will be easier said than done but Bruno Genesio’s side are relying on their exceptional stride and should not be taken for granted. Lyon are boasting a talented squad with plenty of players capable of making a difference on the pitch. They have, however, experienced a couple of injury problems and could end up playing without their key men which could ultimately mean a world’s difference against a side such as Barcelona.
Captain Nabil Fekir is suspended for the first leg and will be sorely missed knowing he scored 11 goals in all competitions for Lyon this season.
Influential midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is having an ankle problem whereas Jason Denayer is also a doubt after picking up a knock against Guingamp this weekend.
La Liga champions-elect returned to winning ways following a three-match winless run and will be raring to go as the Champions League campaign restarts with the Last 16 clash. The Catalans are harbouring a burning Champions League desire and will do their utmost to win the competition for the first time since 2015.
The Lyon clash marks the beginning of a difficult run for Barcelona who are facing a huge test at Sevilla next weekend before travelling to Real Madrid for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final later in February. On top of it all, the Catalans will play Real Madrid for the third time in less than a month’s time, this time in La Liga. Ernesto Valverde really have their plate full at the moment and will need to be on top of their game in order to get through it and continue the race for the treble. Lionel Messi will be expected to lead Barcelona forward and his presence will indeed be a huge boost to their chances. The Argentine scored one and missed another penalty to help his team to a 1-0 win over Valladolid last weekend. It was his 22nd goal in La Liga which makes him the competition’s top scorer ahead of teammate Luis Suarez who bagged 15.
Thomas Vermaelen injured his calf against Valladolid and will be unavailable for the match, together with Jasper Cillessen, Arthur and Rafinha.
Samuel Umtiti is also expected to miss the Lyon clash while Clement Lenglet is expected to return to the fold.
Key Factors to Consider
- Lyon return to the Champions League Last 16 after a seven-year absence
- Les Goes lost only 1 of their last 10 European games
- Captain Nabil Fekir (11 goals in the competition) misses the match through suspension
- Barcelona have last won the Champions League in 2015
- Leo Messi scored 6 goals and got 1 assist in 4 UCL matches this season
Lyon are enjoying a thrilling run of late and will lack no motivation against the inconsistent Barcelona. The Catalans boast a wealth of experience in the competition which should be enough to compensate for any other shortcomings, however.
Best Odds: 4/5
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