‘We can do it again,’ says Genesio as Lyon eye Manchester repeat against Barcelona
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Lyon’s performances against Manchester City in the group stage prove they can compete with mighty Barcelona in Tuesday's Champions League clash, says coach Bruno Genesio.
They beat Pep Guardiola's City side 2-1 in Manchester before a 2-2 home draw with the Premier League leaders, and Genesio is now fancying his team’s chances against the Catalan’s former club.
"[City and Barcelona] are two teams who have the same way of playing – they like to have possession of the ball, and they like to attack," Genesio said at a press conference at Lyon's Groupama Stadium, where the first leg will be played on Tuesday.
"The experience can help us – we played really well in the two games against City, and if we were capable of doing it against them, we can do it again," he added.
With their erratic form, Lyon are often their own worst enemy. They lag a huge 16 points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain in third place, despite having played two games more.
But they are also the only team in the French league to have defeated PSG this season, winning 2-1 at home earlier this month. That was after they lost 5-0 in Paris back in October despite being the better team for long spells.
"Even in Paris we managed to raise our game against a Champions League side," Genesio noted.
"We need to have confidence and belief as well, but I think Barcelona will raise their game compared to recent matches," he added.
Lyon's biggest problem is that captain Nabil Fekir will miss the first leg. The World Cup winner scored the goal that gave them a 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in their last group game to take them through, but a booking a few minutes later means he is suspended here.
"Nabil is our captain and our leader from a technical viewpoint, so obviously it is difficult," Genesio said.
"He is capable of being decisive and often performs very well in these games, but being a team is also about coping with absences and having players who can take his place. We will do what we can in the absence of Nabil," the coach added.
With Fekir absent, Lyon will be relying on the flicks and tricks of Dutch forward Memphis Depay and French-Algerian youngster Houssem Aouar to poke a hole through Barcelona’s defence.
But Genesio has other concerns in midfield and defence, with doubts surrounding the fitness of both Jason Denayer and Tanguy Ndombele.
Belgian defender Denayer suffered an adductor injury in Friday's 2-1 win over Guingamp in Ligue 1, while French international Ndombele – a vital presence in midfield – has been struggling with an ankle problem and did not play at the weekend.
"In my head my starting line-up is clear, but what the doctors tell me might make me change my mind," the coach added.
Ghosts of Rome
Genesio’s counterpart at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde, will be hoping his players have learned the lessons of last year’s shock collapse in the quarter-finals in Rome.
Then, Barcelona lost 3-0 away to Roma to bow out on away goals after winning 4-1 in the first leg at home.
"When we came into that match [against Roma], I remember everyone telling us they were the best opponents for us, that they were the weakest side, but that did not help us," Valverde told reporters on Monday.
"We need to come into these games not with our guard down but with our guard up," he added.
⚽💪 Final session before the Champions League match against Lyon pic.twitter.com/AFeUA1nh1DBarca Futbol News (@barcafutbolnews) February 18, 2019
Barcelona came into this season spurred on by a desire to end Real Madrid's recent dominance in Europe as they look to lift the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2015.
Valverde pointed out that his team had performed well on the road in this season's group stage, taking seven points from a possible nine and notably beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at Wembley.
Their recent performances have been patchy, however, with three straight draws preceding Saturday's laboured 1-0 win over Valladolid, secured thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty.
"Our problem has always been away from home, but it also depends on the order of the two legs," said midfielder Sergio Busquets, who played when Barcelona drew 1-1 in Lyon at this stage 10 years ago, on the way to a 6-3 aggregate victory.
"We know how to suffer, which you have to do in every game, especially in the Champions League," he added.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)