Monday 25 March 2019

Lyon clash is no formality, warns Barca boss Valverde

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde. Photo: PA
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde. Photo: PA

Independent.ie newsdesk

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has warned victory over Lyon in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie is no formality.

Valverde's side are big favourites despite squandering a hatful of chances when they were held to a goalless draw in France three weeks ago.

But following shock wins last week for Manchester United and Ajax against big guns Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid respectively, Valverde is taking nothing for granted.

"Nil-nil from the first leg is a result which benefits neither side because if neither of us score it will go into extra time," Valverde said. "Lyon will come here with their weapons, they've got a very strong attack - very quick, powerful players up front and I'm sure they'll try to exploit that. They know how important it would be for them to get an away goal tomorrow."

Barca made a surprise quarter-final exit last season after being knocked out by Roma and while Valverde said that was of little concern, he admitted last week's upsets proved there are no easy games in the knockout stages.

Reminder

"Last year happened. The other Champions League games are very important to appreciate what the other teams are like and it's a reminder that there are no small teams," Valverde said.

"Also, the result of the first leg does not always matter that much. You've seen some big turnarounds in the games last week. But in our case it's a very balanced result from the first leg. We have to win tomorrow if we want to qualify."

Valverde confirmed Ousmane Dembele will be assessed but he remains a big doubt after sustaining a hamstring injury in Saturday's home win against Rayo Vallecano.

Lyon captain Nabil Fekir missed the first leg through suspension and said he had been counting down the days for the return fixture.

"Barcelona are one of the best teams in Europe," the France international said. "It's always fun to play against these kinds of teams and it's normal that the fans expect a lot from me in this match. We will give our all."

Lyon let slip a two-goal lead at Strasbourg on Saturday and lie third in Ligue 1, seven points behind second-placed Lille and 21 adrift of runaway leaders PSG.

Meanwhile, Alexandre Lacazette has been cleared to play for Arsenal in the second leg of the Europa League last-16 tie against Rennes tomorrow after UEFA reduced his three-match suspension following an appeal.

The French forward had been punished after being shown a straight red card in the February 14 last-32 first leg loss away against BATE Borisov.

Barcelona v Lyon, Live, BT Sport 3, 8.0

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