Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde shrugged off his team’s struggles in front of goal after they were held to a 0-0 draw away at Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
The Spanish side had most of the chances at the Groupama Stadium, with Luis Suarez firing just wide in the second half, although it was Lyon who came the closest when Martin Terrier hit the bar early on.Lionel Messi and co. were once again left frustrated on the road at the business end of the competition, and have now gone six away matches without winning in the Champions League knockout rounds, scoring just a single goal in that time. It is a run that goes back three years.
Desperate to end Real Madrid’s recent European dominance, Barca must now finish the job when the teams meet again at the Camp Nou on March 13, but Lyon remain in the tie.
Barcelona’s form needs to improve between now and then, though — they have drawn four of their last five matches in all, and have scored just once, from a penalty, in their last three outings.
The visitors — who started with Sergi Roberto in midfield rather than the out-of-form Philippe Coutinho — had good reason to be wary of their hosts, who have excelled in big games this season.
Bruno Genesio’s team had taken four points from a possible six against Manchester City in the group stage and recently won at home to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. They are still unbeaten in Europe this season, although this was their sixth consecutive draw.
The same player later shot over at the end of a fantastic move, while Houssem Aouar had earlier been denied by the goalkeeper, but it was Barcelona who enjoyed the longer spells of possession.Ousmane Dembele — one of two Frenchmen in the away line-up — came closest for them in the first half, although their best chances came after he had been replaced by Coutinho midway through the second period.
Suarez came within inches of breaking the deadlock 20 minutes from time, firing narrowly wide from Jordi Alba’s cutback. He has now gone 16 away matches without scoring in the competition.