La Liga leaders Barca’s 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday followed on from three consecutive draws. Barcelona will “suffer a lot” against Lyon in the Champions League last-16 first leg unless they improve, says defender Gerard Pique.
“We were not the Barca we wanted to be. The result was good, the sensations were not,” Pique said. “If we don’t move the ball quickly, dominate the play and possession or create chances, we are a weaker team.”
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti could return against his old club, having been out since November with a knee injury – but Thomas Vermaelen is out with a leg problem.
Lyon forward Nabil Fekir is suspended, with star midfielder Tanguy Ndombele a doubt with an injury problem. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is wary of his team’s French opponents, who came through the group stages unbeaten – as did his side.
“It is going to be a big challenge for us,” Valverde said. “But we’re hungry and ready for this game.” He is not concerned by criticisms of Barcelona’s attack, which has scored only four goals in their past four games – including two Lionel Messi penalties.
“Everybody has their opinion but the question is surprising,” he said. “Maybe we have not created that many chance but we always attack.”
Lyon manager Bruno Genesio – whose side are third in Ligue 1 – says they will need to find a way to play without captain Fekir, who has scored 11 goals in 27 games this season.
“We have to find a balance,” he said. “Nabil Fekir is our captain and technical leader. It’s always difficult playing without him. “He likes being decisive. We’ll need to overcome his absence.
“We have to be measured. We can compete tomorrow but we aren’t favourites. It will take more effort than usual. “It’s important to believe and trust in yourself. I’m calm and serene. The danger is to play the match before starting it.”
- Barcelona are unbeaten against Lyon, winning four of their six previous matches with the French club, all in the Champions League. The Catalans have also scored in all six of those games.
- Lyon and Barcelona’s last competitive encounter came 10 years ago, in the last 16 of the 2008-09 Champions League. Barcelona won 6-3 on aggregate.
- It is the first time two teams are facing each other in the knockout stages without losing a Champions League game all season since Barcelona and Manchester United met in the 2007-08 semi-finals.
- Lyon have made it to the knockout phase of the Champions League for the first time since 2011-12. They have been eliminated at this stage five of the last six times they have been this far.
- Barcelona have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the 15th consecutive season. Only Real Madrid are on a longer run (22). The last time they failed to make it past the last 16 was in 2006-07 when they were eliminated by Liverpool.
- Lyon have drawn each of their last five Champions League games – a sixth in a row would equal the record for most consecutive draws in a single Champions League season held by AEK Athens (2002-03) and Rangers (2005-06).
- Lyon have averaged 44% possession in this season’s Champions League, the lowest ratio among the 16 teams left in the competition. Only Real Madrid have had more possession (65%) than Barcelona (64%).
- Lyon conceded 11 goals in this season’s Champions League group stages, the highest total amongst the 16 clubs left in the competition.
- All five goals conceded by Barcelona in this season’s Champions League have come in the second half, including three in the final 10 minutes.
- Lyon’s Memphis Depay has assisted four goals in the Champions League this season, the joint-most alongside Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez. The last Lyon player to assist four or more goals in the competition was Juninho Pernambucano in 2008-09 (four).
- Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored 90 goals in his last 90 starts in the competition.
- Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has failed to score (or deliver an assist) in his last 1,418 minutes away from home in the Champions League – 23 hours and 38 minutes without finding the net or setting up a goal. The last time he scored on the road came in September 2015 against Roma.
Source: BBC News