SOCCER: Man City to face Lyon tonight in the Champions League semis

SOCCER: Man City to face Lyon tonight in the Champions League semis

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Man City vs Olympique Lyon
Estadio Jose Avalade, Lisbon
Saturday, 15-08-2020 @10pm
Ref: Danny Makkelie (Holland)

Man City and Lyon will square off in the final UEFA champions league quarter final on Saturday night.

With PSG, RB Leipzig and Bayern taking up the first three semi final spots, Saturday will decide the other team completing this season’s final four.

The group stage was a walk in the park for City, who went undefeated, scoring 16 goals and conceding just four. However, they were paired up against the kings of the competition – Real Madrid in the Round of 16.

They were not to be stopped, though, as they scored four past them over two legs, conceding two thanks to a tactical masterclass from Pep Guardiola.

For Lyon, they were handed a relatively tighter group, led by Leipzig. Lyon just about scraped through, courtesy of a Memphis Depay equaliser in the 82nd minute against Julian Nagelsmann and co. on the final matchday of the group stages.

They, then, went on to upset Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, winning the Round of 16 on away goals.

This is not the first time these two sides have met in the Champions League. City and Lyon were drawn together in the same group in the 2018/19 UCL, and the latter recorded a win and a draw against the English outfit.

Pep Guardiola has to cater to just one absence in his squad, which comes in the form of Manchester City’s all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero. The gaffer confirmed that Aguero was in Barcelona getting treatment on his knee.

Although it is quite difficult to predict a lineup by Guardiola in a UCL knock-out fixture, we expect him to shift to a more orthodox 4-3-3 that he has so often used in the Premier League.

Gabriel Jesus is expected to occupy the void left by Aguero as the striker. He will be aided by Raheem Sterling on the left, and Riyad Mahrez on the right. Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are in contention to start as well, but will likely see the game start from the stands.

Kevin De Bruyne will start as the one constant in midfield, as he looks to build on his already fantastic season in the hope of bagging a Champions League winners’ medal. Rodri will be given the job of screening the defence. It is a toss-up between three players for that third position in the midfield trio, but we expect David Silva to fulfill it after coming on as a substitute in the last game.

Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho will start at the heart of the defence as Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo provide width from back. Eric Garcia was tipped as Laporte’s partner for the Champions League, but was relegated to the bench after he refused to sign a new contract. Ederson will retain his spot between the sticks.

Compared to their opponents, Olympique Lyon will have to take care of a lot more injuries. Youssouf Koné, Maxwel Cornet, Jason Denayer and Kenny Tete are all doubts for this game, and will receive the medical green light on the matchday, if at all.

Anthony Lopes will hold the fort for Lyon in goal, as he has throughout the season, emerging as one of the best goalkeepers in France, and coming up clutch on several occasions for them.

Fernando Marçal, Marcelo and Denayer, should he become available, will be given the role of screening Lopes in a three-man backline. Joachim Andersen has played several games in the heart of the Lyon defence and could be called into the starting XI on Saturday as well, if Denayer is not declared match fit.

Rudi Garcia will place five bodies in the centre of the park in the hope of overloading the midfield and closing the space for Manchester City’s creative outlets. Two of these five will come in the form of Cornet and Leo Dubois as the left and right wing-backs respectively. Houssem Aouar, Bruno Guimaraes and Maxence Caqueret start as the central midfielders.

Memphis Depay will preserve his place as one of the two strikers, but is expected to be partnered with Moussa Dembele. The Frenchman was benched against Juventus to pave the way for Karl Toko Ekambi.

This will be the third Champions League meeting between Manchester City and Lyon; no side have City faced on more occasions in the competition without a victory than Lyon (P2 W0 D1 L1). Having failed to win any of their first six Champions League games against English sides (D3 L3), Lyon remain unbeaten in their last four against such opposition (W2 D2), including a win and a draw against Man City in last season’s group stages. This is Lyon’s first appearance at this stage of the competition since 2009-10. The French side have progressed from just one of their four Champions League quarter-final ties – eliminating Bordeaux in 2009-10. Lyon’s Memphis Depay has scored in six successive Champions League games – Ruud van Nistelrooy is the only Dutch player to go on a longer scoring streak in the competition’s history (a run of nine in the 2002-03 campaign). Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in more Champions League goals for Manchester City this season than any other player (9 – 6 goals & 3 assists). A goal in this game would see the Brazilian become just the third player to score in three separate Champions League knockout matches in a single campaign for City after Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling (both in 2018/19). Manchester City have reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for a fourth time in the last five seasons (the only exception being 2016-17); however, they have only progressed from one of their previous three quarter-final appearances, knocking out PSG in 2015-16. Should Manchester City progress, there will be an English representative in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for a third consecutive season, the longest such run since between 2003-04 – 2008-09 (six successive campaigns). Manchester City have lost just one of their last 17 UEFA Champions League games (W13 D3), however that defeat did come in last season’s quarter finals against Tottenham (P9 W7 D2 L0 since). Since progressing from his first seven UEFA Champions League quarter-finals – with Barcelona and FC Bayern München – Pep Guardiola has been eliminated in each of his two appearances at this stage of the competition with Man City (17-18 & 18-19). The Spaniard will be aiming to reach his eighth semi-final which would be a joint record for a manager in the competition alongside José Mourinho. Last time out against Real Madrid, Raheem Sterling scored his 20th UEFA Champions League goal for Man City, becoming just the sixth Englishman to reach this tally in the competition. He has never ended on the losing side in a Champions League game when he has scored (W14 D2) – only six players have scored in more games without losing any of them in the competition’s history (Patrick Kluivert holding the record – P25 W23 D2 L0 in games scored in).

The latest Champions League Quarter final results

Wednesday, 12-08-2020

-Atalanta 1-2 PSG

Thursday, 13-08-2020

-RB Leipzig 2-1 Atletico Madrid

Friday, 15-08-2020

-Barcelona 2-8 Bayern Munich

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