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

Matt Jones 20/02/2019
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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

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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.

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Liverpool and Bayern Munich played out a tense and absorbing goalless draw when they began their round-of-16 commitments in the UEFA Champions League.

In a game of precious few chances, the closest either side came to a breakthrough on Tuesday came early on when Joel Matip’s blushes were saved by Reds goalkeeper Alisson after the centre-back sliced a close-range clearance.

The sides meet again at Allianz Arena on March 14.

BAYERN MUNICH (4-3-3)

Manuel Neuer 6: Remained unflustered, as ever, in face of Liverpool’s press from front. Only true save came towards end, a low stop from Mane’s header.

Joshua Kimmich 7: Booked early on, but Germany international showcased his class. Remarkable composure to herd Mane when he looked in clear.

Niklas Sule 7: A lack of pace was picked out as a potential weakness. But the centre-back was a giant throughout.

Mats Hummels 8: In front of mentor Klopp, the ex-Borussia Dortmund defender oozed class. Great block on Firmino to quell danger.

David Alaba 6: Left it until 78th minute to make first surge forward of game. This was a night about digging in and surviving.

Thiago Alcantara 7: Smashed into Henderson, showing Bayern’s desire and drive. Made one smart pass to Rodriguez in the second half.

Javi Martinez 8: No ring rust, despite last start being on January 27. Made it his mission to frustrate Wijnaldum et al at Anfield.

James Rodriguez 5: Made surprise call to dump Goretzka look a curious one. Colombia playmaker was invisible, in both attack and defence.

Serge Gnabry 7: Very few players can make Robertson unsettled. Ex-Arsenal winger was a menace throughout. Forced Alisson into solid stop.

Robert Lewandowski 6: Tough toil for Poland superstar. Knew chances would be at premium, hence frustration after Fabinho tackle.

Kingsley Coman 5: Fired in cross to tee up Lewandowski, prior to Fabinho challenge. Did plenty of work going backwards at Anfield.

SUBSTITUTES

Franck Ribery N/A: Veteran winger handed the final throes days after celebrating birth of new child.

Renato Sanches N/A: Swansea flop was given responsibility to see out the final moments.

Rafinha N/A: Defensive job at the death, in place of the dogged Gnabry.

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