Lyon produced yet another shock result in the Champions League quarter-finals as they beat Manchester City 3-1 on Saturday night to progress to the semi-finals.
A goal from Maxwel Cornet and a Moussa Dembele brace were enough to get the French side into the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in a decade.
Manchester City were one of the favourites to win the competition coming into the final rounds in Portugal but produced an uncharacteristically muted performance for the majority of the game against Lyon.
Winning the Champions League remains the Holy Grail for Manchester City and getting knocked out by Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1, will haunt Pep Guardiola and his players for some time.
#1 Pep Guardiola overthinks his tactics again
For a manager of such clarity of vision, Pep Guardiola has time and again showed a muddled way of thinking in Champions League knockout games in recent years.
Guardiola finds ways to insert his own anxieties and his maniacal intellectualism into elite knockout football and he sucked the joy out of Manchester City’s performance last night.
His starting eleven last night had the bearings of a manager who again overthought his tactics and picked a Manchester City team to play a very un-Manchester City kind of football and he managed to straight-jacket his brilliant pass-and-move machine into a muted shape, against the seventh-best team in French football.
By the 50th minute at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, Rodri, Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan had touched the ball 288 times. Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and David Silva had zero and were on the bench.
The arrival of the creative players in the second half invariably improved Manchester City’s football but for more than half the duration of the 3-1 defeat, the Citizens were crouched behind a defensive guard.
#2 Lyon were never rattled and were aware of what to expect from Manchester City
Lyon finished seventh in Ligue 1 and had a very disappointing domestic campaign but their run in the Champions League has made the 2019-20 campaign memorable for them.
The French side were massive underdogs going into the game despite beating Juventus in the Round of 16, and very few gave them any chance of beating Manchester City.
They received the first assist from Pep Guardiola, who in his zeal to match Lyon’s three-man backline, fielded a starting eleven devoid of some of his best attacking talents in David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.
Lyon stood up to the little pressure Manchester City managed to muster in the first half and punished them on the counter with a beautiful strike from Maxwel Cornet half-way through the first 45 minutes.
They were under real pressure in the second half but never seemed panicked or rattled and defended with their lives to keep the Manchester City side at bay. It needed an inch-perfect shot from Kevin De Bruyne to finally break them down.
However, Lyon continued to stick to their game plan and when the opportunities arrived to score the goals, the French giants punished Manchester City.
#3 How did Raheem Sterling miss that?
With Lyon 2-1 ahead, Raheem Sterling missed a chance to equalize that will haunt the Manchester City winger until he lifts the Champions League in his career.
It was the 86th minute and the winger had the entire goal to aim at, with no defender around him but he somehow managed to hit the ball over the bar.
The goal would have brought Manchester City back into the game and possibly break Lyon spirits in the dying minutes of the game. They could have gone on to win the game within in the 90 minutes or in extra-time.
But Sterling missed and 59 seconds later, Lyon doubled their lead at the other end with their third goal and finished off Manchester City in the quarter-final.
The winger will continue to think for days, ‘How did I miss that?’.
#4 Lyon set-up a semi-final rematch with Bayern Munich from more than a decade back
The French giants are back in the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 2010. They have beaten Juventus and Manchester City on their way to the last-four but will now face overwhelming favourites, Bayern Munich.
The German champions pulverized Barcelona 8-2 and have a striker in Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 54 goals in all competitions this season.
It is also a rematch between the two from the last time Lyon made it to the semi-finals as well. The Bavarians got the better over the French side over two legs with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate scoreline.
Bayern Munich will do well to not take Lyon lightly after the latter took care of European giants in Juventus and Manchester City.
#5 Pep Guardiola needs better centre-backs if he wants to win the Champions League with Manchester City
Manchester City’s defensive structure has been under the scanner all season and in the Premier League, they were often exposed.
It came to the fore again last night, when Lyon exposed their defenders again with their limited attacking forays. Maxwell Cornett found Ederson off his line and managed to curl the ball around the Manchester City goalkeeper to score the first goal for Lyon.
Lyon’s second goal was an example of Manchester City’s problematic defence. Eric Garcia, the last man standing in the defence, decided to engage with a Lyon forward and at one point not a single player was in Manchester City’s half.
The amount of space to run into for Lyon’s attackers was embarrassing.
The third goal was again slewed with defensive errors but the defining moment was Ederson’s spill and Moussa Dembele was there to take advantage.
Pep Guardiola needs defenders who will make better decisions to cut out some of the individual errors but the structure needs some help as well.
The space behind the Manchester City defence for the second goal was embarrassing for a team of their calibre.
Also Read: Sevilla vs Manchester United: 5 things to look forward to | UEL 2019-20