The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie between Lyon and Barcelona at the Groupama Stadium was highly entertaining, but we somehow saw no goals despite both teams having many, many chances to score. Barça especially could and maybe should have won the match, but they just could not finish things off on the night. They’ll have another chance at home next month, but this tie is wide open.
The first 20 minutes were awesome, with both teams counter attacking on each other and creating real chances. Lyon had the first two, with Ter Stegen having to make a couple of exceptional saves to stop Houssem Aouar and Martin Terrier; Barça responded well to the early scare and both Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembélé found themselves in good positions, but Messi sent a shot over the bar while Dembélé was stopped by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
The final 25 minutes were a little awesome, but still really good to watch as both teams continued to treat the ball well and create chances. The problem for both sides, especially for Barça, was decision-making in the final third: whenever the Blaugrana were one pass away from a real scoring opportunity, they made the wrong one. That was really the story of the half for Barça, who were playing well but just couldn’t find the goal, although Sergio Busquets came extremely close with a deflected shot that went just wide in the last play of the first period.
At halftime, a REALLY good game of football somehow had zero goals. That was surely going to change in the second half.
Barça had much more control of the game in the opening minutes of the second half, limiting Lyon’s counter attacks and forcing the home team to defend deeper inside their own half. The Blaugrana still had trouble making decisions in the final third, with Dembélé especially struggling in the attack. He was replaced by Philippe Coutinho, who looked more composed and asked different questions of the Lyon defense.
The first big chance of the half came from Barça when Jordi Alba found Luis Suárez, but the Uruguayan’s shot went agonizingly wide. Coutinho’s presence really had a positive effect on the game for Barça, and in the final 15 minutes the Lyon defense were on the ropes, tired and relying on last-ditch tackles and big saves by Lopes.
As much as Barça tried, the final whistle came before they could find a goal. In a night where they played really well and deserved a better result, the Blaugrana will regret making so many bad decisions in the final third. Hopefully it won’t cost them a place in the quarterfinals.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto (Vidal), Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Suárez, Dembélé (Coutinho)
Lyon: Lopes; Dubois, Marcelo, Denayer, Mendy; Ndombele (Diop), Aouar; Traoré (Tousart), Depay, Terrier (Cornet); Dembélé