Manchester City and Olympique Lyon travel to Lisbon to lock horns in the fourth quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Before anyone knew it, three of the four quarter-finals for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season have already concluded with Paris Saint-Germain picking up a late victory against Atalanta. RB Leipzig did something of the same sort to Atletico Madrid. Barcelona, on the other hand, were absolutely thrashed by Bayern Munich who recorded an 8-2 victory.
The winner of Saturday’s game – Manchester City vs Olympique Lyon – will go through to match up against the German beasts in the final four stages.
The group stage was a walk in the park for City, who went undefeated, scoring 16 goals and conceding just four. However, they were paired up against the kings of the competition – Real Madrid in the Round of 16. They were not to be stopped, though, as they scored four past them over two legs, conceding two thanks to a tactical masterclass from Pep Guardiola.
Lyon, on the other hand, were handed a relatively tighter group, led by Leipzig. Lyon just about scraped through, courtesy of a Memphis Depay equaliser in the 82nd minute against Julian Nagelsmann and co. on the final matchday of the group stages. They, then, went on to upset Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, winning the Round of 16 on away goals.
This is not the first time these two sides have met in the Champions League. City and Lyon were drawn together in the same group in the 2018/19 UCL, and the latter recorded a win and a draw against the English outfit. Let us take a closer look at this fixture.
Team News and Tactics
Pep Guardiola has to cater to just one absence in his squad, which comes in the form of Manchester City’s all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero. The gaffer confirmed that Aguero was in Barcelona getting treatment on his knee.
Although it is quite difficult to predict a lineup by Guardiola in a UCL knock-out fixture, we expect him to shift to a more orthodox 4-3-3 that he has so often used in the Premier League.
Gabriel Jesus is expected to occupy the void left by Aguero as the striker. He will be aided by Raheem Sterling on the left, and Riyad Mahrez on the right. Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are in contention to start as well, but will likely see the game start from the stands.
Kevin De Bruyne will start as the one constant in midfield, as he looks to build on his already fantastic season in the hope of bagging a Champions League winners’ medal. Rodri will be given the job of screening the defence. It is a toss-up between three players for that third position in the midfield trio, but we expect David Silva to fulfill it after coming on as a substitute in the last game.
Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho will start at the heart of the defence as Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo provide width from back. Eric Garcia was tipped as Laporte’s partner for the Champions League, but was relegated to the bench after he refused to sign a new contract. Ederson will retain his spot between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Compared to their opponents, Olympique Lyon will have to take care of a lot more injuries. Youssouf Koné, Maxwel Cornet, Jason Denayer and Kenny Tete are all doubts for this game, and will receive the medical green light on the matchday, if at all.
Anthony Lopes will hold the fort for Lyon in goal, as he has throughout the season, emerging as one of the best goalkeepers in France, and coming up clutch on several occasions for them.
Fernando Marçal, Marcelo and Denayer, should he become available, will be given the role of screening Lopes in a three-man backline. Joachim Andersen has played several games in the heart of the Lyon defence and could be called into the starting XI on Saturday as well, if Denayer is not declared match fit.
Rudi Garcia will place five bodies in the centre of the park in the hope of overloading the midfield and closing the space for Manchester City’s creative outlets. Two of these five will come in the form of Cornet and Leo Dubois as the left and right wing-backs respectively. Houssem Aouar, Bruno Guimaraes and Maxence Caqueret start as the central midfielders.
Memphis Depay will preserve his place as one of the two strikers, but is expected to be partnered with Moussa Dembele. The Frenchman was benched against Juventus to pave the way for Karl Toko Ekambi.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Dubois, Caqueret, Guimaraes, Aouar, Cornet; Dembele, Depay
- Pep Guardiola and Rudi Garcia have crossed paths twice in their managerial careers, with Guardiola coming out as the victor on both the occasions.
- Olympique Lyon are unbeaten against Manchester City on the European stage, winning once and drawing once.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in this season’s Champions League so far, scoring 20 goals, conceding 6.
- City have scored more than two goals in six of their last seven matches. The only time they did not was in the FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal.
- Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus have a combined total of 12 goals in the Champions League this season – one more than Lyon have managed throughout their CL campaign.
Player to Watch
There is little looking past Gabriel Jesus as Manchester City’s main man in the Champions League this season. The Brazilian has scored six goals in seven appearances in the campaign, all while providing three assists. He has racked up these stats while regularly playing in unusual roles such as left-wing, left-midfield, and even second-striker.
Jesus has done far more than just score though. His ability to adapt and run channels through half-spaces out of position has helped City. He came up clutch for City yet again against Real Madrid last time out when they were searching for the winner, pressing Raphael Varane to win the ball before slyly putting it past Thibaut Courtois.
The Brazilian has responded well to the responsibility of leading the line for City in Sergio Aguero’s absence. And the Mancunians will need him to bring his A game on Saturday against Lyon.
Manchester City 2-1 Olympique Lyon
We have already seen the nature of these one-legged UCL ties. They closely resemble the World Cup, and can shape and form within a few minutes. Atalanta and Atletico Madrid have been victims of the same.
While we expect more of the same on Saturday, as Olympique Lyon go into this tie as the underdogs, there seems to be little beating Manchester City right now. Having outplayed the 13-times holders in the previous round, they will be prepared for what awaits them in Lisbon.
Pep Guardiola will come up with solutions, and we expect his team to go through, winning 2-1 on Saturday, setting up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Bayern Munich.