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FC Barcelona have it all to do in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with Olympique Lyonnais following Tuesday’s 0-0 draw.
But it could have been oh so different. The blaugrana were the superior side from start to finish and had no fewer than 25 attempts on goal, but it was one of those nights when the ball just did not want to go in.
Their French hosts were by no means mere spectators, and there were flashes of class among their ranks, but they will feel very fortunate to have come out of this unscathed and having prevented the Catalans from grabbing the all-important away goal.
Despite ending without score, the first half was a classic end-to-end European tie, and the best chance was probably the one that fell to Martin Terrier, whose powerful drive was tipped onto the bar by Ter Stegen.
But with Ousmane Dembélé dazzling in his return to his home country and Leo Messi as active as always, Barça piled more and more pressure on their hosts and the second 45 minutes were almost entirely one-way traffic, with the visitors denied time and time again as misfortune, imprecise finishing, top goalkeeping from Anthony Lopes and even the woodwork stood in the way of an elusive goal
Luis Suárez was particularly prominent in the second act, and had several chances to end his goalscoring drought in UCL road games, with one especially dangerous strike deflected by the French defence, while Messi also kept Lopes on his toes, but the Portuguese stopper was always sharp in his response.
The ball was all Barça’s, with Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets joining the list of shot takers, but again to no avail. Twenty-five attempts in total, and not one of them found the target.
In three weeks’ time, there will be another 90 minutes to set things straight. Surely Olympique can’t hold out that long again…
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