UCL Quarter-Final:Manchester City vs Lyon Preview
The Champions League remains the Holy Grail for Manchester City after a decade of success and many supporters now believe that this is the year that Pep Guardiola will deliver the trophy that has eluded them. City have performed well in this year’s competition, topping their group without losing a game and beating the impressive Atalanta 5-1 back in October. Most importantly, when they came up against an experienced Real Madrid side in the last-16 they looked comfortable and beat the 13-time European champions home and away.
Crucial to those wins was Gabriel Jesus who has rarely been a first-choice under Guardiola but who has been one of City’s best performers in this year’s Champions League. The Brazilian has scored six and assisted three so far and his tireless pressing of Raphael Varane caused both goals in City’s 2-1 second leg win.
Manchester City are the only side in this year’s quarter-finals who have not yet scored from outside the penalty box. However in the 2019/20 Premier League season they recorded a league-high 18 goals from that distance, suggesting that they might be due something spectacular in Lisbon. If anyone is to get that honour it would be fitting if it was the departing David Silva, who ended his Premier League career by scoring two direct free-kicks in his final four games. The game against Lyon marks ten years and a day since the Spaniard made his first appearance for City and he will be desperate to ensure that it is not his last.
Standing in their way is a Lyon side who have become a familiar foe for City in the Champions League. In two group stage matches in the 2018/19 competition the French side had the better of Guardiola’s men, drawing 2-2 in France and beating them 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Lyon do have quality in their ranks but inconsistency, along with some trigger-happy French officials, saw them finish outside of Ligue 1’s European qualifying spots for the upcoming season. They were down in seventh when the French football season was ended in April and they will miss out on continental competition for the first time since 1997, unless they can upset the odds and lift this year’s Champions League. They certainly seem motivated for the task in the last round as they knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus on away goals. It was the first time the Portuguese forward had been eliminated at that stage since Real Madrid’s 2009/10 campaign, where they were also eliminated by Lyon.
Their chances of springing a surprise are very dependent on the performance of Memphis Depay who has been in fine form for them this season. The Dutchman has been involved in 17 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions, and has scored six from six in the Champions League. Lyon are not a high-scoring team and his tally accounts for two-thirds of their total goals in Europe this year, making him the one-to-watch for the City defence.
Injuries And Suspensions
Guardiola confirmed in his pre-match press conference on Friday evening that Sergio Agüero is still in Barcelona, recovering from the knee injury that he suffered in June. Jesus seems certain to keep his place in the side with Agüero looking increasingly unlikely to feature again this season.
The midfield trio of Rodrigo, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne who started against Real Madrid should keep their places ahead of Bernado Silva and David Silva. However Benjamin Mendy, suspended for their last fixture, could well return at left-back in place of João Cancelo.
Lyon boss Rudi Garcia has a full squad to select from as the club look to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for just the second time in their history. Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele is yet to score in this season’s Champions League but has been in good form in Ligue 1 and may return to the side having been benched against Juventus.