Manchester City will continue their pursuit of European glory on Saturday night as they face Lyon in their Champions League quarter-final.
The tie is a single-legged affair to be played in Lisbon, with the winners facing Bayern Munich in the semi-final. That match-up was decided last night in a breathtaking encounter, as Quique Setién’s Barcelona suffered a historic 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.
There is a huge amount of pressure on Guardiola and his side going into this game. Not only are they favourites to win the tie, but failure to retain both the FA Cup and the Premier League this season means the Champions League is City’s only hope of making this season a truly successful one.
And while City are pipped to beat the French side, Guardiola will be acutely aware of the threat they carry. City faced Lyon twice in the group stage of the 2018/19 Champions League season, losing 2-1 at the Etihad before securing a late draw at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Both teams come into this game with very few absentees. For City, their only loss is Sergio Agüero, who will probably remain sidelined following a long-term knee injury.
Left-back Benjamin Mendy is set to return from his suspension from the second leg of the Real Madrid tie, but João Cancelo’s good performances in that role may keep the Frenchman out of the starting eleven on Saturday night.
Lyon have no players missing for the game – Moussa Dembele was surprisingly left out of their second leg against Juventus, so it remains to be seen whether or not the 24-year-old will play a role against City.
Head to Head:
As we touched on before, City faced Lyon for the first time ever at the start of last season, almost two full years ago now. Goals from Maxwell Cornet and Nabil Fekir helped Lyon defeat City at the Etihad, despite Bernardo Silva’s second-half goal.
In the reverse tie in France, City scraped a late draw thanks to an 83rd-minute header from Sergio Agüero. Lyon missed several good chances in that game and could have easily pulled off another win.
Despite going through against Juventus, the second leg of that tie constituted Lyon’s fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions. The French league was, however, suspended after the coronavirus pandemic, so two of the games in that run were in March.
Since football’s restart, Lyon lost the Coupe de la Ligue final against PSG – who face RB Leipzig in the other semi-final – and they also lost 2-1 at Juventus’ Allianz stadium last week. They did go through on away goals owing to a 1-0 win against the Italian side all the way back in February.
Manchester City come into the game having won six of their last seven games, scoring 23 goals and conceding just four in that period. Their final five Premier League games finished with an aggregate scoreline of 21-1 in their favour.
Last time out, City, of course, defeated 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid 2-1 thanks to two defensive errors from Raphael Varane at the Etihad.
The Dutch referee Danny Makkelie is set to take charge of this game – unless Lyon follow through with a protest to UEFA over his appointment.
Lyon are reportedly unhappy with the choice, due to the ramifications the tie has on Dutch side Ajax. Lyon finished seventh in this season’s Ligue 1, meaning that their only route to the Champions League next season would be winning the competition.
If they did win the final on the 23rd, Ajax would be forced to enter the qualification stage for the Champions League – if City knock Lyon out, however, Ajax automatically qualify. Lyon are therefore unhappy with the appointment of a Dutch referee who they believe may hold hope of Lyon’s exit from European football.
His assistants are set to be fellow Dutchmen Mario Diks and Hessel Steegstra. Managing the VAR technology will be Jochen Kamphuis and his assistant Kevin Blom, who also both hail from the Netherlands. In fact, the only non-Dutch official for the game will be the Greek Tasos Sidiropolous, who will operate as the fourth official.
You can follow Danny on Twitter here: @dannyldnr
Follow us on Twitter for live match coverage: @City_Xtra