Manchester City v Lyon: French can strike

Manchester City start hot favourites to beat Lyon in Saturday's Champions League quarter-final but the French side will be competitive, says Andy Schooler.

Manchester City v Lyon
Saturday August 15, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1

The trouble with City

It's been tough to get a real handle on Manchester City this season.

After all, who'd have said in August - that's August 2019 - that they'd lose nine Premier League games this season?

While they've largely continued to smash their way past the strugglers, City have had notable problems against the better sides - and that has to be a concern heading into the latter stages of the Champions League in Lisbon.

Against the Premier League's top seven, Pep Guardiola's men lost seven of their 12 games this term.

City did manage to put that record to one side against Real Madrid last week when winning 2-1 at the Etihad to seal a 4-2 aggregate win.

They received plenty of plaudits for their performance yet some of it appeared to be a little over the top.

City's defence has undoubtedly improved, as many said it would, since the return of Aymeric Laporte but Real still created a few good chances and things could have all turned out rather different had Karim Benzema put away one of them early in the second half.

At the other end, City only scored thanks to two horrendous errors from Raphael Varane.

Guardiola faces a dilemma over whether to recall Benjamin Mendy at left-back following his suspension. Joao Cancelo played well there against Real.

The Spaniard sprang a surprise with his selection that night, playing Phil Foden as part of an attacking three, and another tactical tweak could well come here.

Midfield generals

If it does, it may well by in midfield, the area where Lyon impressed during last season's Champions League group games against City. They won 2-1 at the Etihad and then drew 2-2 in France.

There's been a managerial change since then and some player turnover but new boss Rudi Garcia has rebuilt in the middle of the park following the loss of Tanguy Ndombele to Spurs and that area was again the one to catch the eye as Lyon took out Juventus over two legs in the last round.

Houssem Aouar has performed all season and now he's been joined by youngsters Bruno Guimaraes, a January arrival, and Max Caqueret, who has held down a place since his winter breakthrough.

The trio not only nullified Juve's creativity across both games, all three also offered things going forward.

Dealing with City will be an even tougher challenge but their youthful vibrancy (none has yet turned 23) coupled with the team being well-rested, mean the battle should at least be keenly contested.

A possible weakness is their ability to defend crosses - Juve did have some joy in that area last week - and they will need to restrict Kevin de Bruyne's delivery. Don't be surprised if the Belgian keeps drifting wide on the right in a bid to swing in his often-devastating balls.

For the record, KDB is 6/5 for an assist.

Lyon can keep it close

City themselves are 1.27 for the win and I just don't see there being any value in that whatsoever.

As already pointed out, they've endured plenty of struggles this season and Lyon look to have the quality to at least keep this competitive.

I won't be backing the French, who have also beaten Benfica and semi-finalists RB Leipzig this season, to win the game at 13.50 (the draw is available to back at 7.00) but Lyon do look worthy of consideration on the Asian handicaps.

They are at 1.88 on the +1.5, +2 line which means a one-goal loss is a profit. If they lose by two clear goals, you lose half your stake.

Goals, for both, likely

However, I prefer to deal in the goal markets.

Despite City's propensity for goals, I'm rarely enthused by the over/under line in their games - over 2.5 is at least bigger than usual at 1.61 but still not temping enough.

Instead I prefer the 2.14 on offer about both teams scoring.

That's occurred in City's last six Champions League games and while their clean-sheet record has been good since lockdown, the majority of their recent matches have come against limited opponents.

BTTS has landed in five of Lyon's eight in this competition and if they are to find the target then there's a good chance that Memphis Depay is on target.


Memphis yell

It may not seem that way on his social media feeds but the Dutchman has matured over the past couple of years, becoming both an integral part of his club side but also his national one.

Depay has scored in his last six Champions League matches and is on penalties. The fact he's ex-Man Utd is added motivation, if it's needed.

The defensive side of City's game remains a worry and I just don't see why Depay is on offer at 16.00 to score the first goal.

That's preferred ahead of 5.20 in the anytime scorer market given Depay is still feeling his way back after knee surgery and so may well be replaced in the second half.

Opta fact

This will be the third UEFA Champions League meeting between Manchester City and Lyon; no side have the Citizens faced on more occasions in the competition without a victory than Lyon (P2 W0 D1 L1).

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