Lyon welcome Barcelona to the Groupama Stadium on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Last 16 Champions League tie and Mark O'Haire expects the Ligue 1 side to put up a good fight...
"The Catalan giants have also been particularly unimpressive when on the road in Champions League knockout ties in recent years, returning just W1-D1-L5 in their most recent five"
Lyon v Barcelona
Tuesday February 19, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Lyon capable of causing an upset
Lyon warmed up for Tuesday night's contest by tightening their grip on third-place in Ligue 1 with a relatively routine 2-1 home triumph over Guingamp. Head coach Bruno Genesio fielded a surprisingly strong side, with Martin Terrier one of the few beneficiaries of rotation, getting on the scoresheet along with club captain Nabil Fekir.
Starlet Houssem Aouar was attributed with assists for both goals and will again be key if OL are to match their more illustrious opposition in midweek, especially so with Fekir sitting out the first leg with suspension. Boss Genesio was pleased with the victory over Guingamp but warned his players they must improve if they're to pull off a famous win.
Les Gones have shown they're capable of competing with the elite in 2018/19 - the hosts outplayed Manchester City twice in the Champions League group-stages and also became the first club to overcome runaway Ligue 1 leaders PSG domestically when they entertained the capital club here at the start of February.
Barcelona lacking inspiration of late
Barcelona's lead atop of La Liga stretched to seven points this weekend as great rivals Real Madrid suffered a surprise home defeat. However, the Catalans failed to inspire as they ran out 1-0 winners in a lacklustre Camp Nou encounter with relegation-battlers Valladolid on Saturday night. Lionel Messi scored - and missed - a penalty in a largely forgettable fixture.
Victory did end a run of three consecutive draws for Ernesto Valverde's troops who had one eye on their midweek match by resting and rotating their starting XI. The Blaugrana boss insists Barca will be ready to put in a performance that counts in France with Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Clement Lenglet all expected to return to the side here.
Centre-back and former Lyon ace Samuel Umtiti has been included in the squad having received the medical green light after several months sidelined, although he's unlikely to be thrown straight back into the mix. Elsewhere, fellow defender Thomas Vermaelen has picked up another injury and misses out along with Rafinha and Arthur.
OL can be competitive against Catalans
It's 10 years since Lyon and Barcelona last crossed swords in France and on that occasion Juninho and Thierry Henry were scorers in an entertaining 1-1 draw. A similar showdown is forecast for Tuesday night and there might be mileage in supporting the Ligue 1 side from avoiding a one-sided defeat at their Groupama Stadium base.
As already mentioned, Lyon [4.80] have showcased their ability to match the likes of Manchester City and PSG already this season and the hosts look well worth backing with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line at [1.66]. This selection would see our stake returned should the hosts lose by exactly one goal with a draw or victory paying-out profit.
Barcelona [1.82] have won by a margin of two goals or more on four occasions away from home this term - at an injury-hit Spurs side, Girona, Levante and Espanyol. Meanwhile, the Catalan giants have also been particularly unimpressive when on the road in Champions League knockout ties in recent years, returning just W1-D1-L5 in their most recent five.
Goals likely to be on the agenda
No team qualified for the Champions League Last 16 having conceded more goals than Lyon's tally of 11 as the hosts shipped at least twice in four of their six encounters. Les Gones also saw Both Teams To Score bank in all six group-stage games, whilst Over 2.5 Goals [1.56] banked in five fixtures.
Barcelona weren't quite so charitable, although the visitors failed to keep their sheets clean when travelling to Tottenham, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven. The Blaugrana have shutout their hosts just once in away Champions League knockout football over the past five campaigns - at Arsenal in 2016 - suggesting goals could be on the agenda here.
Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss
Staked: 110.00 pts
Returned: 112.59 pts
P/L: +2.59 pts
Mark O’Haire says: Back Lyon +1 Asian Handicap @ [1.66]/a>