Robert Lewandowski shrinks on big stage again as Bayern Munich crash out

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Lewandowski failed to make an impact.

Bayern Munich went crashing out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage thanks to a poor display in a 3-1 home loss to Liverpool.

Though several big players went missing, no one’s poor performance was as egregious as that of star striker Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern No 9 was completely nullified by the visiting defence, and could do little to have an impact even as the game gradually slipped away.

Here’s a closer look at the striker’s performance.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Shots – 1

Dribbles – 1

Key Passes – 0

Offsides – 3

Aerial Duels won – 0/3

30-SECOND REPORT

Lewandowski was involved in Bayern’s goal, as Joel Matip was harried into a rushed attempted clearance that turned into an own goal, knowing that the striker was behind him waiting for a tap-in.

Other than that moment, and another when he missed a Serge Gnabry cross by inches when a goal was certain had he connected, the Pole had little impact on this game. There was little link-up play or attempt to stamp his authority, and Liverpool’s defence handled him with ease.

GOT RIGHT

It’s hard to think of what Lewandowski did well in this game. His mere presence gave Liverpool something to think about, as they were constantly aware of his potential threat, but they dealt with it without any problems. The Bayern striker managed only one shot, had fewer touches than either goalkeeper, and lost all three of the aerial duels he was involved in. Not a good day at the office for Lewandowski.

GOT WRONG

Poor Movement

Lewandowski’s movement was awful – no player was caught offside more often. He also never found away to break free of Virgil van Dijk. In fairness, that’s a difficult task, but a player of Lewandowski’s ability shouldn’t be so handily pocketed, even against a great defender.

Drifted out of the game

The Bayern striker was generally not involved in the game. His 29 touches were the fewest of any player who started, barring Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson – who went off injured in the 13th minute. Lewandowski drifted completely out of the game.

VERDICT

Lewandowski’s big-game prowess often gets questioned, and Wednesday’s performance will only give the critics more fuel. The striker was barely in the game. There are factors that explain that, his team-mates inability to find him with passes and crosses, Liverpool’s excellent defending, but for a striker who has shown that he can be more than just a lethal finisher, his lack of impact was galling.

Bayern had a few disappointing performances from star names on Wednesday, but Lewandowski’s stood out.

RATING – 4/10

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Philippe Coutinho ends Barcelona goal drought in win over Lyon, but question marks remain

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Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal for Barcelona in La Liga or the Champions League since October last year as they beat Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Lionel Messi‘s ‘Panenka’ from the spot opened the scoring at Camp Nou in the 17th minute after Luis Suarez hit the deck. The Uruguayan then set up Coutinho for a tap-in with 31 minutes played as the Catalans progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Lyon pulled a goal back through Lucas Tousart just before the hour mark but Messi then settled the tie with an excellent third before Gerard Pique and substitute Ousmane Dembele both got forward during two separate breaks and added a fourth and fifth for good measure.

Here, we analyse Coutinho’s performance.

STATS

Goals – 1

Shots – 4

Shots on target – 2

Key passes – 2

Pass accuracy – 89.7%

Touches – 56

Dribbles – 2

Dispossessed – 2

30-SECOND REPORT

Dembele was fit enough to make the match-day squad for this fixture, but Ernesto Valverde sprung a surprise by leaving him on the bench and persisting with the out-of-form Coutinho instead. A few sloppy moments at the start of the game suggested that may have been a mistake, but Barca as a whole were irresistible and seemed destined for victory.

The Brazilian then scored a rare goal, benefiting from Suarez’s excellent play to score into an empty net. The strike seemed to give the attacking midfielder a much-needed boost in confidence but that was short-lived. As Barcelona grew complacent with a two-goal cushion, Lyon took the initiative and Coutinho was once again confined to a peripheral role, rarely affecting proceedings until he was substituted in the 69th minute with the tie in the balance.

GOT RIGHT

Movement

Coutinho consistently made the right runs. With Messi dropping deep effect play, he naturally attracted Lyon’s defenders and Coutinho took advantage by making darting runs in behind. That saw him get on the end Pique’s ball forward only for keeper Anthony Lopes to intervene.

His movement also earned him an opportunity in the second half but having rounded substitute keeper Mathieu Gorgelin, he could only find the side netting from a narrow angle. He was also alert and in the right area to help himself to a comfortable goal in the first half, slotting Suarez’s pass into an empty net.

GOT WRONG

Slowed play down

While the likes of Suarez, Messi and even Arthur at times, linked up in the final third seamlessly, Coutinho was guilty of not being on the same wavelength at times. First-time passes, lay-offs and dummies featured heavily in Barca’s attacking play but the Brazilian tended to dwell on the ball.

It was a sign of a player lacking in confidence. He received possession in great positions but – particularly during the first half an hour – he didn’t make the most of promising scenarios, even somehow going away from goal at times.

VERDICT

There were glimpses of the player Barca were promised when they signed him from Liverpool in January 2018 and his goal would’ve done him some good as well. However, he did little to dispel the feeling that he simply doesn’t fit in at the club. He struggled to get on the same page as his team-mates and soon retreated into his shell.

6/10

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Player ratings as Lionel Messi earns an 8 for helping Barcelona power past Lyon

Andy West 14/03/2019
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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scored twice and created two more as Barcelona came through a second half scare to hammer Lyon 5-1 and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.

But it wasn’t a totally convincing performance from the Catalans, with the midfield providing particular cause for concern in the second half.

Let’s check out all the player performances with our full match ratings.

BARCELONA STARTING XI (4-4-2)

Ter Stegen 6. Made a good save to repel a mishit cross from Mendy and had little else to do other than stop a late free-kick.

Roberto 5. Not his best performance. Often looked vulnerable defensively and had a few missteps coming forward.

Pique 8. Another commanding performance, doing well against dangerous Dembele and getting forward to score.

Lenglet 7. Made a great block from Dembele in the first half and helped hold the fort when Lyon got on top.

Alba 7. Outstanding in the first half and one of the few Barca players who showed drive during their flat patch in the second.

Rakitic 6. Had an early shot blocked and sent another over the bar, but this was a so-so, tired-looking performance.

Busquets 5. Occasionally ponderous and sometimes caught out of position, he is starting to become a weak link.

Arthur 6. Pulled the strings expertly in midfield during Barca’s fast start but lost control later on and was replaced.

Messi 8. Opened the scoring from the spot and wrapped up the tie with a second goal before teeing up Pique and Dembele.

Suarez 7. Brilliant in the first half, winning the early spot-kick and brilliantly teeing up Coutinho for the second. Quieter after that.

Coutinho 7. First half was his best performance for ages, including a tap-in for the second goal, but he faded badly.

SUBS

Dembele 7. Came on for Coutinho and provided a spark at a time it was badly needed, netting the fifth.

Vidal 7. Added for the final 15 minutes to bring some much-needed bite into midfield and did that enforcer’s job well.

Semedo 6. Introduced near the end to replace Roberto and looked sharp and lively, although Lyon were done by then.

LYON STARTING XI (5-3-2)

Lopes 7. Made an excellent stop from Messi and a brave save at Coutinho’s feet, injuring himself in the process and coming off.

Denayer 5. Foolishly fouled Suarez for the breakthrough penalty and regularly looked on the verge of a costly error.

Marcelo 6. Tried to stick tight to Suarez but was given the runaround by the Uruguayan, although he improved after the break.

Marcal 7. Tasked with shackling Messi and did a decent job, including a goalline clearance from the Argentine.

Dubois 5. Desperately struggled to contain the marauding runs of Alba and offered little threat coming forward.

Ndombele 7. Confident and composed in midfield. Perhaps sometimes too casual, but clearly a classy player.

Tousart 6. Often bypassed in the centre of the pitch but grabbed the goal to give his team hope and gained confidence.

Mendy 6. Patrolled the left flank and made some menacing runs, but his delivery was wayward. Injured later on.

Fekir 6. Struggled to influence the action in the first half but gradually imposed himself, showing some slick touches

Depay 6. Linked play well at times and always looked busy, playing a role in his team’s recovery before being replaced.

Dembele 7. Came close with a deflected first half strike and often threatened with powerful running. A real hot prospect.

SUBS

Gorgelin 6. Sub keeper introduced early after Lopes was injured. Got a hand to Messi’s decisive goal but not strong enough.

Traore 5. Replaced Depay for the final 20 minutes and unfortunate to come on at a time his team lost the initiative.

Cornet 5. Late sub for the injured Mendy, with little opportunity make an impact.

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