UCL – Lyon vs. FC Barcelona (0-0)
The ties between Lyon and Barcelona was highly entertaining, but we somehow saw no goals. Barcelona especially could and maybe should have won the match, but they could not finish things off on the night.
The first half, Barcelona was stubborn in their attack as they kept attempting to build from inside rather than stretch Lyon’s defensive setup with passes out to the flanks to either Jordi Alba or Nelson Semedo. But instead of continuing to open up play from out wide to challenge Lyon’s tight defence, much of the first half for Barcelona featured the team maintaining possession in the attacking third but struggling to breakdown their backline. Since Lyon defended deep, Barcelona often settled for shots from outside of the box.
Barcelona’s defence was superb as they countered Lyon’s setup and prevented them from creating goal-scoring opportunities. 4-4-2 defensive structure with the implementation of a high press allowed Barcelona to cut down passing lanes and prevent through balls continually.
The problem for both sides was decision-making in the final third. Both were playing well but couldn’t find the goal
Barcelona had much more control of the game in the second half, limiting Lyon’s counter-attacks. Their attack began to show some life when Phillipe Coutinho entered the game for Ousmane Dembele. Coutinho’s link-up play with Alba stretched Lyon’s backline and started to unsettle their defensive organisation.
Lyon was maintaining their defensive structure but pressed high to jumpstarting a counterattack. They kept a tight and narrow defensive line while their four in the midfield shifted across the pitch. This was a zonal defending gameplan from Lyon as they did not continually press Barcelona but instead look to win back the ball off a soft press or from interceptions. This was primarily successful for Lyon much throughout the game as Barcelona were not comfortable in building out from the back, and their trio of forwards was not able to receive the ball in space.
In the end, Lyon got the result that they had hoped for as they drew 0-0. For both Barcelona and Lyon, it was a tightly contested tactical duel that featured missed chances and questionable decision-making plays. Lyon is undoubtedly pleased with the scoreless draw, but for Barcelona, it is a game filled with what ifs.
Sergi Roberto surprise addition to the midfield
For Barcelona, Sergi Roberto inserted as a surprise addition to the midfield. It was a questionable choice but likely justified due to the plan to keep a tight midfield line. From a defensive standpoint, Barcelona was near flawless, but in the attack, it was a completely different story. Without the fullbacks out wide, Barcelona was unable to penetrate the box and break through Lyon’s defensive line.
The decision to keep Suarez for the entirety of the game ultimately hurt the team. One solution could have been to take off Suarez shortly after the start of the second half and instead employ a false nine Messi that features Coutinho on the left and Dembele out on the right. This would allow Messi to continue to freely roam inside while Coutinho links up with Jordi, while Dembele can push Semedo into more attacking areas on the right.