Manchester City vs Lyon | Saturday 16th August 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Lyon will be looking to produce some Champions League magic again by knocking out another of Europe’s big guns and continuing their remarkable journey in the continent’s premier competition.
Not many saw the French side progressing past Juventus over two legs but an away goal victory was hard-fought and well deserved, using the pace of their attack on the counter attack to great effect to gain the lead in the away fixture and ultimately give Juventus too much to do.
In hindsight, with Juve hardly inspiring confidence all season, Rudi Garcia’s young troops getting the better of Ronaldo and Co. shouldn’t have come at too much of a shock and this set of players is now becoming used to going toe-to-toe with some elite clubs.
Manchester City will be all too aware of that, suffering a defeat and a draw in the group stages of this tournament to Lyon just last season. Garcia had only just taken charge at the time of the 2-2 draw in southern France but he saw plenty about his squad that day which showed signs of what Lyon could be but inconsistent performances continue to hold them back – as a seventh place league finish in the abruptly ended Ligue 1 goes to show.
Whilst the team are some way of the glory days of the 2000-2010 decade, the likes of Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele continue to impress on both the domestic and European stage and it’s Depay where I want to focus my attentions for the first bet on this game.
Depay to be caught offside
It’s in a slightly different market to the normal in backing the Dutchman to be caught offside once or more in the contest, priced at a generous 7/4 with SkyBet.
Although Depay has played wide left for much of his career, he’s been deployed through the centre of a forward two/three under much of Garcia’s time at the club. All six times that he has been flagged by the linesman this season have been when playing in either the number 10 role or as central striker, including once each in his last two matches.
Manchester City play with an incredibly high line at times which always leads to high amounts of opposition offside numbers. The stats back this up, with their opponents registering two or more offsides in each of their last six fixtures and in 12 of the last 13.
Depay has racked up four offsides in his six Champions League appearances and when you look deeper, three of those came against a team that deploy a similarly high defensive shape in RB Leipzig.
In City’s last Champions League, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was flagged offside a whopping four times as they tried to break the offside trap regularly, something I suspect Lyon will try to do as well.
Depay, who is almost certain to start through the centre again given it’s success at Juventus, will look to play on the shoulder of the last defender and get behind a worryingly suspect City backline. The 7/4 price therefore looks too big and I’ll play the 17/2 for 2+ as well for interest.
City should prove too strong
I mentioned City’s questionable defence and it’s something that has let them down all season long. More often than not though, their immense attacking talent overcomes those deficiencies at the other end of the pitch and I think that’ll be the case again here.
City to win, have the most corners in the game and Lyon to pick up the most cards is 2/1 with Unibet’s bet builder feature and is one I’m going to put some money behind. It’s a bet that always worth a look at when one side is quite heavy favourites for a game and all the factors point to it coming close here.
I can’t see Lyon’s defence, which has kept just three clean sheets in 13 Champions League games, being able to cope with one of (if not the best) attack in the world. Sure, Sergio Aguero being missing is a blow, but there’s more than enough in the tank with De Bruyne, Sterling and Foden – to name just a few – all in fabulous form.
The Blue Moon will dominate, it’s just about whether they take their chances. The only way I can see Lyon forcing the game to an extra 30 minutes or even winning in regular time is if they don’t make any defensive errors which seems unlikely up against such a relentless press.
Lyon largely kept Juventus at the door to find a way through the quarter-final tie but aside from Ronaldo, Juve offered nothing here and even if one of City’s forward players has an off-day, there’s plenty of others to step up to the plate.
On the corners front, City have always ranked highly given that they pepper the opposition goal with shot after shot and keep them penned back to the edge of their own penalty area of even deeper for much of the game.
The Citizens averaged 7.8 flag kicks per game in the Premier League this season and although that number dips to 6.5 in the Champions League, it’s still impressive numbers considering the better standard of teams they are up against.
The most cards tends to be the element of this bet which can go either way but I think we have some merit in including it here. Lyon have been particularly aggressive of since the turn of the year and that was on show in Turin, committing 18 fouls and picking up an eye watering seven yellow cards as a result in their desperate attempt to hold on to their advantage.
The weekend before, in the French Coupe de la Ligue final, they fouled PSG 28 times across the match and they will be without the ball for most of the contest here so could grow frustrated in attempting to win possession. OL have averaged 1.86 cards per game this season compared to City’s 1.43 which again backs up that selection.
An element to factor in to is Lyon’s complaints about the referee appointment for this match – the Dutch official Danny Makkelie. OL’s flimsy argument is that a City win here would give Ajax an automatic group stage place in next season’s Champions League and he may therefore be biased towards the English side.
I doubt Makkelie is particularly happy with those accusations and that could just play out in the game, particularly if the Lyon players are already going out with an issue with him even before kick-off.
The 2/1 bet has landed in the Citizens’ last two Champions League games against Manchester City too, it’s worth noting.
Rodri to rack up the tackles
My final play is Manchester City midfielder Rodri to successfully win Over 1.5 Tackles, priced ateEvens with Bet365. You could probably back this as a price play alone considering it’s double the odds of most other bookies offering this market but the stats do back up taking on the evens offering too.
The Spaniard has averaged 2.7 tackles per game in the Champions League this season, landing 2 or more in five of his seven appearances. To add to this, 14 of the 16 central midfielders to play more than 60 minutes against Lyon in Europe’s elite competition in 2019/20 have hit this marker, averaging 3.3 between them with two hitting 9 and 11 respectively – huge numbers. It has to be a two point play on that basis.
City should prove too strong for a plucky Lyon team here but don’t expect it to be a complete walkover at this stage of proceedings. We’ve four bets to get behind though in what should be a really decent game.
Manchester City vs Lyon – Memphis Depay 1+ Offside (7/4 SkyBet)
Manchester City vs Lyon – Memphis Depay 2+ Offsides (17/2 SkyBet)
Manchester City vs Lyon – Manchester City to Win; Manchester City Most Corners & Lyon Most Cards (2/1 Unibet)
Manchester City vs Lyon – Rodri Over 1.5 Tackles (1/1 Bet365)