BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says his side will be extra wary of Olympique Lyonnais in Wednesday’s Champions League decider after Real Madrid and Paris St Germain suffered shock eliminations from the competition after second-leg turnarounds.
After the last-16 first leg in Lyon finished goalless, Barca must beat the French side at the Nou Camp if they are to advance to the quarter-finals of a competition which they have underperformed in since last winning it in 2015.
The Catalans are overwhelming favourites to win the game and have an outstanding home record in the Champions League, remaining unbeaten at the Nou Camp in the competition since losing to Bayern Munich in 2013.
But Valverde said they need to be extra careful after witnessing Real Madrid’s 4-1 home defeat by Ajax Amsterdam after winning the first leg, and Paris St Germain’s collapse against Manchester United.
“The fact that teams like Real Madrid and PSG have been knocked out is important and we will have to be wary of that in the game, and we are not underestimating Lyon,” Valverde told a news conference on Tuesday.
“They have their weapons, above all in attack and their fast forwards and I’m sure they’ll try to make the most of that. They usually take the initiative in games, they know how important an away goal will be and they’ll use that.”
Barca have not lost a Champions League last-16 tie since going out to Liverpool in 2007 but have not gone beyond the quarter-finals since 2015.
Last year’s elimination to AS Roma after winning the first leg 4-1 was particularly embarrassing for the club.
“We aren’t thinking about what happened last year, we’re thinking about the games now and have studied the first leg,” Valverde said.
“We have seen the calibre of opponents by watching the other Champions League games and have seen that there are no small teams and a first leg advantage does not count for much. The score is level and if we want to go through we have to win.”
Lyon, who are third in Ligue 1 but caused a surprise by beating Manchester City away from home in the Champions League group stage, have been boosted by the return of French forward Nabil Fekir who was suspended from the first leg.
Barca winger Ousmane Dembele picked up a hamstring strain in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano, although Valverde said there was still a chance he could make the matchday squad for the La Liga leaders.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)