Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw by Olympique Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday night at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde tweaked his line-up to move Sergi Roberto forward into midfield, meaning Semedo started at right back. Also of note was that Ousmane Dembele started up front with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, while Philippe Coutinho sat on the bench.
Unlike Saturday’s sluggish performance against Valladolid, Barcelona came out with more energy and had a bevy of chances in the first half-hour. The spaces were certainly there in which to operate, but the finishing touch was lacking. Dembele was imprecise and indecisive on the left, while Suarez cut a frustrated figure due to a lack of service.
Lyon, too, were asking questions and a stinging shot from Martin Terrier forced Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to stretch his fingertips just to deflect the ball onto the crossbar.
Messi did his best to try to cover up Barcelona’s shortcomings in the final third, but any time the Argentine looked up there were two white jerseys right in front of him. And in the instances when Messi dropped back to receive the ball, there were four Lyon players forming a box around him. Barcelona’s first 45 minutes ended with their closest chance at goal when a deflected shot from Sergio Busquets skirted around the post.
It was a similar story after the re-start; Barcelona controlling possession but hardly threatening and Lyon showing flashes on the counterattack, including a Memphis Depay curler that barely missed.
Valverde had enough of Dembele’s wastefulness and brought on Coutinho for the Frenchman midway through the second stanza, and it was no coincidence that Barcelona’s best chance came right after the entrance of the Brazilian. Coutinho fed Jordi Alba on the left and the cross from the left-back met the left foot of Suarez, who missed by inches.
Lyon were not helping themselves very much as every time they looked to break on the counter, a wayward pass or a heavy touch would slow the momentum or give the ball right back to a Barcelona side that was edging closer to goal. Suarez continued to battle in the area, but the Uruguayan was riddled by the same inconsistency that has been plaguing him in recent weeks.
Busquets, had a second crack at goal that was stopped by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. The final chance was a Messi free-kick that hit the wall, perfectly summing up the night for the Argentine and his teammates who will hope for better luck in the return leg next month.