Barcelona were always comfortable, but rarely imposing, en route to a 0-0 draw away to Lyon in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
Lyon were organized and determined in defense, never once offering the heavily-favored Barca a clean look at goal. They’ll have a mountain to climb in the second leg at the Camp Nou, but the Blaugrana are far from through to the quarterfinals.
Lionel Messi and Co., were the nonstop aggressors, taking the game to the home side with wave after wave of possession and build-up. Despite peppering Lyon’s penalty area with 13 first-half shots, though — many of which were little more than hopeful efforts from long-distance — Barca managed to put just two on target, both of which were quite comfortably saved by Anthony Lopes.
It was actually Lyon who were first to truly threaten an early breakthrough, forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a pair of superb saves inside the game’s opening 10 minutes. First, it was Houssem Aouar who fired low and hard for bottom-90 to Ter Stegen’s left, but the big German goalkeeper was quick to get down and make the save. Then, just three minutes later, Martin Terrier unleashed a rocket from nearly 25 yards out, but Ter Stegen was perfectly positioned and sprang to the rescue in the nick of time, reaching up to tip the ball onto the crossbar and collect the ricochet.
Barcelona’s first great scoring chance didn’t arrive until the 70th minute, and even then Luis Suarez couldn’t redirect Philippe Coutinho‘s cross on target. The Uruguayan uncorked and un-savable, left-footed strike from 15 yards out, but didn’t get his foot quite far enough around the ball and pushed it just wide of Lopes’ right-hand post.
Barcelona nearly stole a late winner through Sergio Busquets’ 86th-minute strike from the edge of the penalty area, but Lopes saw the ball through a sea of bodies to push the ball over the bar and keep the well-earned clean sheet intact.