Lyon v Barcelona talking points as Luis Suarez's away struggles continue in 0-0 draw

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Barcelona huffed and puffed but failed to blow Lyon away as the round of 16 Champions League first leg at the Groupama Stadium on Wednesday night ended in a goalless draw.

Lionel Messi was predictably a central figure but the little magician couldn’t quite weave his magic in France. The hosts posed a threat on the break but Barcelona were able to cope.

It was another poor European night away from home for Luiz Suarez while Ousmane Dembele complemented Messi well before his bewildering substitution in the second half.

The Catalans will be disappointed to come away from Lyon without an away goal given the kind of chances they squandered.

It does however set up an enticing second leg back at Camp Nou in three weeks’ time.

LYON LEAVE MESSI OPEN

Sure, Barcelona set up in a 4-3-3 formation with Messi’s name appearing on the right flank but it’s a poorly kept secret that he doesn’t actually operate out wide.

The Argentine consistently pops up centrally in the final third and Bruno Genesio would’ve been well aware of that especially since he spent his Saturday night watching the Catalans’ 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid at Camp Nou.

Yet, Messi was inexplicably afforded far too much space to get on the ball and create chances. Lyon lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Memphis Depay playing off Moussa Dembele in Nabil Fekir’s absence. That may have been in an effort to maintain a more compact shape but Barca’s lack of width down the right meant the midfielder deployed on the left was perhaps wasted.

Tanguy Ndombele had a good game but he and Houssem Aouar were busy competing with the trio of Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic in midfield while Messi always had space to receive the ball and turn.

The Blaugrana talisman was a little out of sorts – as he was over the weekend as well – and failed to take advantage of the freedom he enjoyed, particularly in the first half.

Messi

SUAREZ’S DROUGHT AWAY IN EUROPE

It’s utterly baffling but Luis Suarez, one of Europe’s elite strikers, hasn’t scored an away goal in the Champions League since he hit the back of the net against Roma back in 2015. It’s now over 24 hours since the Uruguayan got on the scoresheet on the road in Europe.

He failed to register a single shot – or key pass – in the first half at the Groupama Stadium. That changed in the second period but the result was still disappointing.

When receiving the ball 12 yards from goal, he was like a deer caught in the headlights. He wrestled with the option to lay the ball off for the onrushing Messi or pull the trigger on the turn. He hesitated for too long and ended up awkwardly stabbing it towards goal with the defender and keeper smothering his effort.

Then an excellent cut-back from Jordi Alba found him in acres of space inside the box 20 minutes from time but he fired a left-footed effort wide.

MANAGERIAL DECISIONS

We’ve already touched on how Genesio’s set-up saw Lyon afford Messi too much room but his decision to start Maxwel Cornet on the bench was curious as well. Yes, Martin Terrier who played in his stead did force Marc-Andre ter Stegen into an outstanding save in the first half but he didn’t really threaten down that left flank.

Pace on the break was the biggest weapon in Lyon’s armour against Barca but Cornet’s absence from the starting line-up meant that was mitigated and Nelson Semedo – whose defending can be exposed at times – was afforded a comfortable night.

Meanwhile, Ernesto Valverde’s substitution of Dembele in the 67th minute was questionable as well. The Frenchman had three key passes and four shots during his time on the pitch.

Messi benefited from his presence as well and looked frustrated once he was hooked and the Lyon defence weren’t stretched as much.

Most popular

In focus: Ousmane Dembele in thick of the action, but thin on quality for Barcelona in Lyon

Matt Jones 20/02/2019
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Ousmane Dembele

Chances came and went for both sides but it was defences and, in-particular goalkeepers, on top as Lyon and Barcelona played out a goalless draw at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

It may be seen as a point very much earned for the French side in the first leg of this round-of-16 Champions League clash, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen played his part with two fine stops to keep Barca in it – his stunning one-handed palm onto the bar from Martin Terrier’s driving effort particularly impressive.

At the other end Anthony Lopes was similarly busy, even if the away side’s attackers were far from their flamboyant best.

Here, we take a closer look at one of them, Ousmane Dembele, who was in the thick of the action but a little thin on quality.

STATISTICS

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 4

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 62

Key passes – 3

Pass accuracy – 78.1 %

Crosses – 5

Fouled – 4

30-SECOND REPORT

Take Ernesto Valverde’s decision to withdraw winger Dembele with 23 minutes to play any way you like. In many ways, the young Frenchman was Barcelona’s most threatening player on the pitch.

Another way of looking at it was he was erratic and wasteful with the ball when he had it, which was often. He is just coming back from injury, this was his third game and he hadn’t completed 90 minutes in the previous two, so patience should be preached.

GOT RIGHT

Always a threat – Even if he’s far from his best, Dembele can worry any defence with his devious trickery and unpredictability. Barca constantly looked to him as an outlet to spark attacks in a first leg that was surprisingly open from the very first whistle.

Even though he was some way short of his best form shown throughout much of this season, he has an excuse. What could Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez’s explanations be?

GOT WRONG

End product – The 21-year-old has regularly been criticised for sloppiness in his early Blaugrana days, yet he has massively cut out the errors and stepped up the consistency prior to this spell on the sidelines.

In that regard, it was disappointing here to see him so clueless when in the final third. Lyon’s defence closed him down at every occasion, but three shots off target from four attempts and no accurate crosses from five attempted are worrying statistics.

VERDICT

Too often here he looked like the Dembele of old. Aimlessly running down blind alleys and bereft of quality when needed.

However, he can’t be close to being 100-per-cent fully fit yet, so expectation must be tempered. He was hardly the only Barca player in luminous yellow off colour.

RATING: 5/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

Most popular

Barcelona player ratings as Lionel Messi lacks finishing touch in 0-0 at Lyon

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Barcelona huffed and puffed but failed to blow Lyon away as the round of 16 encounter at the Groupama Stadium on Wednesday night ended in a goalless draw.

Lionel Messi was predictably a central figure but the little magician couldn’t quite weave his magic in France. The hosts posed a threat on the break but Barcelona were able to cope.

It was another poor European night away from home for Luiz Suarez while Ousmane Dembele complemented Messi well before his bewildering substitution in the second half.

The Catalans will be disappointed to come away from Lyon without an away goal given the kind of chances they squandered.

It does however set up an enticing second leg back at Camp Nou in three weeks’ time.

STARTING XI (4-3-3)

Marc-Andre ter Stegen 7 – Made an outstanding save to keep out Martin Terrier’s swerving strike from range. Commanded his area and was quick off his line.

Nelson Semedo 6 – Excellent on the ball and looked assured at the back with Sergi Roberto supporting him.

Gerard Pique 7 – Made a crucial intervention when Moussa Dembele appeared to be clean through. Solid in defence.

Clement Lenglet 6 – Had a headed chance from a free-kick that looped over. Confident at the back.

Jordi Alba 7 – Showed great attacking intent with a couple of excellent cut-backs and a decent effort on the volley as well.

Ivan Rakitic 6 – Could’ve done better from Messi’s lay-off but his effort from the top of the box went wide. Retained possession well.

Sergio Busquets 6 – Went close with a deflected effort on the stroke of half-time. Anchored the midfield expertly and shielded the defence.

Sergio Roberto 6 – Good positional play as he helped keep the ball but also generated a bit of width on the right at times while tracking back as well.

Lionel Messi 7 – Had more space to operate in than he’s used to and wasn’t ruthless enough. Still the best player, creating a host of chances and looking the most likely to score. Just lacked the finishing touch.

Luis Suarez 4 – Anonymous in the first half and wasteful in the second. His drought away in Europe – now over 24 hours of playing time – continues.

Ousmane Dembele 7 – Showed good signs in the first half and even tested the keeper. Stretched the defence and was surprisingly hooked in the second half.

SUBS

Philippe Coutinho (67′) 6 – Replaced Dembele and didn’t have the same influence in attack despite forcing a save from Anthony Lopes.

Arturo Vidal (81′) N/A – Offered a bit more drive from midfield.

Most popular