I was really, really looking forward to this game as this was going to be my very first FC Barcelona Champions League match! I was finally going to see FC Barcelona go against a team that was not in La Liga! They were going against Olympique Lyonnais (or Lyon FC for short) who are from France’s La Ligue. At this point, Lyon was the only remaining French team as Paris St. Germain got eliminated by Manchester United in the previous week.
I had high hopes for this FC Barcelona team because in the previous week, they beat their archrival nemesis, Real Madrid, twice by knocking them out of La Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) as well as putting them into crisis mode by winning at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid again for the second match which was La Liga (regular season). This put FC Barcelona 12 points ahead of Real Madrid in the standings and also let Real Madrid wide open for Ajax Amsterdam FC to understand how to beat Real. Ajax came in and absolutely and completely knocked out previous year’s Champions League winners in Madrid which shocked the home crowd. This put Real Madrid into meltdown mode which was ignited by FC Barcelona who are looking at another treble opportunity by winning La Liga (league), Copa del Rey (King’s Cup), and Champions League.
Another great bonus about Ajax beating Real Madrid was Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong had a great game since he will join FC Barcelona later this summer on a future transfer. This means bad news for Real Madrid as I can imagine the future damage that he will impose upon Real Madrid. I’m hoping that his Ajax teammate and central defender Matthijs de Ligt will follow him as well. De Ligt had a great game as well but if he doesn’t arrive at FC Barcelona’s doorstep, all is not lost due to Frenkie de Jong being the prize. It’s already easy to see that both Frenkie and current Barca midfielder Arthur Melo will be young, talented players that already have that Barcelona DNA to play tiki-taka extremely well in the foreseeable future as the current Barcelona players such as Suarez, Pique, Messi, Busquets, etc. start to fade away.
With recent shocks happening during Champions League and Europa League such as Manchester United coming back to beat Paris St. Germain, FC Porto beating AS Roma in extra time, Arsenal losing 3-1 to Rennes in the first Europa leg, I knew that FC Barcelona had to be wary about Lyon. So the players had to know that they cannot leave their guard down since the first leg was a 0-0 game especially with this game back to Camp Nou where away goals can be the difference maker in the event of a tie. Barca already had a little shock in the previous game by being down 0-1 against relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano but as always, they seem to turn it up in the second half of the game and ended up winning 3-1 at home.
Despite FC Lyon’s insistence on playing spoiler against FC Barcelona’s winning dreams, the home team knew what it had to do which was ensure to win the games and win that European trophy. In the beginning, FC Barcelona was pouring on the attacks left and right making FC Lyon completely on the defensive. With the front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Philippe Coutinho weaving in Lyon’s back end, it caused a bit of a panic out there to where Barcelona ended up scoring 2 goals and almost had a third goal which was real close.
And then FC Lyon came back with a goal of its own but in the second half, which was when everyone in the stadium was a bit nerved when Lyon scored its first goal meaning all they needed to do is score another one and hold from there in order to win on away goals. However, Barca had other ideas and turned up the heat as it continued its relentless attack by scoring 3 consecutive goals without any kind of response from the visiting side. That’s the team’s specialty of picking up when they really need to in the second half if the team is down on goals or requires a finishing blow to the opposing team.
With a 5-1 score and aggregate score, FC Barcelona easily cruised in this victory but there were times when they allowed FC Lyon too many opportunities in the latter first half and beginning of the second half to come back. That was when FC Barcelona should have put on the polish for the absolute knockout finishing blow so there would be no concern for some weird rally-back by Lyon. But no team is completely perfect and there is always some kind of drama going on for every team out there. I still FC Barcelona has the best chance to win the Champions League trophy this year and overall, win the treble (La Liga title, La Copa del Rey, and Champions League).
Tip: Going to a Champions League game is a completely different feeling from a regular league game that I must say that it’s definitely worth attending one. The vibe and atmosphere… just different as it’s basically a playoff game to say the least. Best to go to one regular game (or a few) to take it all in and then head to a Champions League game for the finisher. It’s just an awesome feeling to go to such a game.