After the most successful couple of weeks in the Barcelona season, it is time to look forward to the Champions League. Barcelona followed a 3-0 victory over Real Madrid to book their place in the Copa del Rey Final with another victory over their archrivals to all but eliminate them from La Liga. Real then went on to lose 4-1 at the Santiago Bernebeu at the hands of Ajax, leaving Barcelona in a place to ponder their most critical challenge yet, Lyon.
Similar to the make up of the Ajax squad that dismantled the Royal Whites, Lyon has several qualities that make them anything but safe. Firstly, they possess lethal young talent across the board.
From Nabil Fekir, Moussa Dembele, Memphis Depay, and even Houssem Aouar, their age should not be indicative of their confidence and ability. As a young, up and coming team, the French side comes to the Camp Nou as underdogs, something they clearly know. This is the perfect situation for them to be in though, and something for Barcelona to fear.
With the world expecting a Barcelona win, Lyon has no pressure and will certainly play in their free flowing system that has helped them get this far in the Champions League. Similar to Ajax in squad age and the underdog mentality, Barcelona must prepare with thoroughness so as to not be embarrassed like their rivals in Madrid.
Continuing on, Barcelona has seen their Champions League dreams dashed in previous campaigns. In the previous three years, the squad has been able to make it to the final eight, but nothing more. Similar to last year, when playing a Roma squad that had nothing to lose, Barcelona failed to progress in the tournament that means the most among premier European competition.
This Lyon side, as mentioned before will come in with nothing to lose, in order for Barcelona to get through, scoring an early goal, being decisive in front of goal, and securing the back line are critical.
While the squad did just recently beat Real Madrid 3-0 and 1-0, Ajax proved that Real are not the team they were last year. Two successive defeats do not carry the weight of previous seasons and does not translate to an amazing Barcelona side. In fact, throughout the 3-0 Copa del Rey win, Barcelona looked the team most likely to concede for large portions of the match, and the final scoreline could be classified as generous.
While this young and relatively inexperienced Lyon side comes into the Camp Nou with no pressure, Barcelona has it all. With Lionel Messi proclaiming that the Champions League is of utmost importance this campaign at the beginning of the season, all Blaugranes have been looking forward to finally bringing the Champions League trophy back to Barcelona.
Even after a very successful February, Barcelona must look to be more clinical with their possession inside and outside of the box, rely on Gerard Pique to continue displaying the form that has made him a mainstay in the team for over a decade, and look to attack the Lyon side from the beginning of the match. An away goal for Lyon means Barcelona would need two, if the French side manage to score first, it would be an uphill battle from the start.
To conclude -- Let’s score early, put the pressure on the inexperienced Lyon side, and continue on in our search for the treble. Visca Barca.