Champions League

Valverde and Busquests: 'hungry and ready for Lyon test'

Valverde and Busquests: 'hungry and ready for Lyon test'

Rodolfo Molina


With talk of Coutinho playing in the middle from his manager, Ernesto Valverde, and closing down Lyon's space from Sergio Busquets.

Ernesto Valverde and Sergio Busquets spoke to the press ahead of Barcelona's Champions League first leg away to Olympique Lyon in the last 16. Both accepted that it was going to be a  tough challenge but felt they were prepared for it.

Barça ready for Lyon test

With Olympique Lyonnais having beaten Paris St Germain in Ligue 1 and Manchester City in the group phase of the Champions League, Barcelona are well aware of the trap they could be stepping into when they face the French club.

Lyon handed PSG their only league defeat a couple of weeks ago and claimed a 2-1 win at Manchester City, showing they have a capacity to raise their level when it matters. Barca, who laboured to a 1-0 win against Valladolid in La Liga on Saturday, will not take anything for granted in the last-16 first leg on Tuesday.

"I have a lot of respect for Lyon, they beat PSG recently," midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "They have very fast players in the midfield and in attack, they try to create space. We have to close those spaces."

Ernesto Valverde listens to soothing jazz at the press conference.

Ernesto Valverde listens to soothing jazz at the press conference.

Coach Ernesto Valverde noted OL were undefeated in the competition. "It is going to be a big challenge for us,' the manager said. 'But we're hungry and ready for this game."

No Fekir, Coutinho in the middle

As always in the knockout stage - well at least until the rules are changed - scoring an away goal can be paramount, and there are concerns that Barca have been less of an attacking side lately.

"It is true that scoring an away goal is important because if you don't, it leaves everything up in the air for the second leg,' said Valverde. 'Everybody has their opinion but the question is surprising.

Arrival in Lyon for Barça boys.

Arrival in Lyon for Barça boys.

"Maybe we have not created that many chances but we always attack. Tomorrow we will see."

Valverde admitted that it was a good thing for his side that one of Lyon's stars, Nabil Fekir, was missing for this tie, saying that he can 'be decisive in any game'. The manager also said that Coutinho may be played more centrally, while he is hoping that Luis Suárez gets back to his top goal-scoring form soon.