The only team so far this season to inflict a defeat on Manchester City, Lyon get another bite at the cherry this evening, but they’ll have a job on their hands to contain a side that has steadily improved since their September meeting. Les Gones have certainly got a team worth talking about – their young side seems set to provide players to the national selection for years to come – but Nabil Fekir, Ferland Mendy and co. will be definite second favourites here.
Pep Guardiola’s City thrashed four goals past West Ham on Saturday, the fourth game in a row where they have scored three or more. It’s increasingly looking like no-one in England will have the mettle to stop them winning another title, but the Champions League has eluded them thus far. A solid win on the road at a strong opponent would make a statement, and they have in-form players capable of delivering it.
Lyon vs Manchester City Prediction: Lyon 1-3 Manchester City
One of the things that stands out about the present incarnation of Manchester City is quite how many players in their side are capable of putting in match-winning performances. Teams can come up with a plan to stop Sergio Aguero, or Raheem Sterling, or David Silva, but to stop all of them at once? And Leroy Sane? As a result, they go into every game capable of winning convincingly – and that’s what they’ve been doing recently. Lyon may well score here. They have the players to make an attacking impact, but when it comes down to 90 minutes, it’s hard to see anything other than a home win.
Our recommended tip: Sane Scores Anytime
Leroy Sane’s speed and dribbling ability have never been in question, but there have been regular questions posed in the press over whether the German international has enough of an “end product” to command a starting place. Perhaps his five goals and four assists this season could serve as an answer to those questions. Sane has not won the same plaudits as some of his teammates since his arrival from Schalke, but he provided an assist in the win over West Ham at the weekend, then added two goals of his own. He’s on fire at the moment, and a good bet at 6/4 (2.50) with Paddy Power to notch here.
Lyon sprung the Champions League shock of the season so far when they visited the Etihad Stadium in September. Expected to look good in defeat, they ignored the second part of that equation as they strolled into a 2-0 half-time lead. Nabil Fekir created the first goal for Max Cornet, before adding the second off Memphis Depay’s assist. Halfway through the second half, the hosts pulled one back through Bernardo Silva – but if the watching public were expecting a cavalier charge to secure a point or better, it didn’t materialise and Lyon left Manchester with an unforeseen, and valuable, win.
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Players to watch: Ferland Mendy & Aymeric Laporte
Recently called up to the French national squad, Mendy is the latest in a long line of young players to burst onto the scene at Lyon. Signed from Le Havre, the pacey left-back has become a fixture in the side over the last two seasons. In this match, he’s likely to be up against Riyad Mahrez, which is a considerable challenge for any defender. Mendy won’t shrink from it, and will also get forward when he can to provide support for the attacking tyros who get a lot more press attention than he does.
Laporte arrived in Manchester for a substantial fee in last January’s transfer window, and has gone about his business quietly but very effectively. Although nominally the bad cop to John Stones’ “picking out passes and being Franz Beckenbauer” cop, the Basque centre-back is not short on skills himself, and will also be a threat in the opposition penalty area from set-pieces, having already picked up a couple of goals this season with his excellent heading ability.