Published: Tue, February 19, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Barcelona lack sparkle ahead of crucial Champions League mission in Lyon

Barcelona lack sparkle ahead of crucial Champions League mission in Lyon

The last time these two teams met was in 2009 when FC Barcelona won 5-2.

Barca have fallen at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League each year since last winning it in 2015, suffering a particularly humiliating elimination to AS Roma last season after taking a 4-1 lead in the first leg of the tie.

This season they have been driven by a desire to put that behind them and end Real Madrid's recent dominance in the competition that has yielded three successive titles.

Lyon are a distant third place in Ligue 1, sitting 16 points behind PSG despite beating them 2-1 two weeks ago.

"That shows that it is a hard competition, but challenges are there to be overcome", said Valverde on Monday as he recalled last year's exit.

Barcelona are a better defensive side under Ernesto Valverde so won't be as open.

FA Cup quarter-final draw: Manchester sides kept apart
But the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford was banished from memory and Mata went on: 'I think it was the ideal reaction to our loss. United won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge , six days after losing at home to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League .

"In the first leg, you need to have a high guard - we will take this into account". Ernesto Valverde's team have lost only twice this season and not since November 11, when they lost 4-3 to Real Betis.

Their recent performances have been patchy, however, with three straight draws preceding Saturday's laboured 1-0 win over Valladolid, secured thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty.

"We were not the Barca we wanted to be". The strength of Lyon this season has been their midfield, lead by captain Nabil Fekir, who assumes an attacking role. They were unable to score an away goal and ultimately paid for it as the Italian side completed a 3-0 comeback.

With Fekir absent, Lyon will be relying on the flicks and tricks of Dutch forward Memphis Depay and French-Algerian youngster Houssem Aouar to poke a hole through Barcelona's defence.

Defender Jason Denayer and France midfielder Tanguy Ndombele are in the Lyon squad despite being injury doubts, as they look to take inspiration from their performances against Manchester City in the group stage.

The Barcelona centre-back has 13 goals in Europe's top competition since making his debut in the competition in 2004 with Manchester United.

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