Barcelona v Lyon
Betting suggestion: Lyon +2 @1,96 Pinnacle
Short preview: Everyone’s talking about Barcelona going through without any problems, bookies are setting them as 1,20 favorites and even though I do agree with the fact, that Barcelona is a huge favorite here than Lyon, but I bet that Lyon will create more chances than Manchester United against PSG! I was on Lyon not to lose on the first match and it went “easily” through. Now, bookies are offering almost even odds for Asian handicap +2, and I will take it. Spanish football was far in front of everyone, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid being in last stages of Champions League every year, but at the same time, you have to admit that they are obviously falling. We’ve seen what happened to both teams from Madrid, and once again I am not saying that Lyon will win as Ajax did, not at all, as Barcelona is still the strongest team in Spain, but I am simply giving them much more chances than bookies. This Barcelona isn’t on the level of Barcelona from 3-4 years ago, and they are falling from season to season. Seeing announced lineup with Vidal, Busquets, and Rakitić in the midfield, Messi will have to come on his own half to take the ball and do his magic. Therefore, as for the first match, the only person who can turn this match around is Lionel Messi. At the same time, everyone is forgetting that Lyon has Dembele, Traore, Depay, and Fekir, who didn’t participate in the first match. French team impressed me with the performance in group stages in Manchester against Citizens and if they play similar to that, they are fully capable of setting up a huge surprise here. Not just that Fekir is back, Depay owes a lot from the first match, and considering Cornet and Terrier on the bench, Genesio really has plenty of choices in the offensive. Comparing the midfield, Barcelona isn’t anymore the tiki-taka Barça, with two box to box midfielders Vidal and Rakitić. Arthur is by far the most creative central midfielder but seems like Valverde trusts experiences more. From year to year, Busquets is losing his role of magician defending midfielder – under Guardiola, he was one my favorite players to watch, with all the tactics and vision in his head, but since he left, Enrique started changing the style of Barcelona slowly, putting much bigger focus in the offensive trio (Neymar-Suarez-Messi), and now Valverde changed it even more. Their problem is the same for several years, as the formation is completely “left-sided” with Messi as a “right winger” on the paper, having a free role, being in the middle a lot and with a small number of overlaps from the right fullback Sergi Roberto, who should in my opinion play as a midfielder next to Busquets, but they made a mistake a few years ago – forcing him to be the RB. So the main focus for Lyon should be Messi and Alba, who is playing extremely good, making overlaps on his side. Once again, Barcelona is fully capable of winning this match with 3 or 4 to nil, but things should really play out perfectly for them. The biggest mistake for Lyon would be to come with the 5-men defense and hoping for a chance on the counter. If they were capable of fighting and regaining possession against Manchester City (in my opinion by far the strongest team in the world when it comes to possession and plays in pockets), then they are very much capable of doing the same against Barcelona. Denayer and Marcelo played very well on the first match, and with similar performance, Suarez should be in problems once again. In the first match, Lyon looked stable, played very solid, being somehow in the edge but when Genesio decided to put N’Dombele out of a position of defensive midfielder and after even taking him out of the game, Lyon dropped deep and decided to defend. Since then, Barcelona created most of the chances and that’s just the proof for Genesio that he shouldn’t play like this. Truth is also that N’Dombele wasn’t 100% fit for the first match, but he is for this one and with the addition of the leader – Fekir, once again – Lyon isn’t as big underdog for me as it is for bookmakers.