Lyon looking to stop Lionel Messi in Champions League

Lyon have to try and stop Messi without their talisman Nabil Fekir. (AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Lyon looking to stop Lionel Messi in Champions League

  • French club without talisman and captain Nabil Fekir.
  • "We must stop Messi" says coach Bruno Genesio.

LYON: Olympique Lyonnais will be out to succeed where so many other have failed by trying to “reduce” the influence of Lionel Messi when they host Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 first leg without their talisman and captain Nabil Fekir on Tuesday.
Fekir will be suspended for the game, limiting Lyon’s striking power as Bruno Genesio’s side will rely on defender Ferland Mendy to contain Argentine forward Messi and French striker Ousmane Dembele.
“Nabil Fekir is our captain and technical leader. We will have to do more to compensate for his absence,” Genesio said.
“We will have to reduce Messi’s influence.”
Despite Messi having scored more than 100 times in the Champions League, Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar has confidence in his team mate Mendy to control proceedings at the Groupama Stadium.
“I think that Ferland Mendy is ready to face Messi,” he said.
“We are confident in the qualities of our squad.”
Aouar’s enthusiasm may yet be dented as Lyon are also sweating on the fitness of defender Jason Denayer and midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.
The French side geared up for Tuesday’s clash with a hard-fought 2-1 Ligue 1 win against Guingamp on Friday while Barca needed a Messi penalty to beat Real Valladolid 1-0 in La Liga on Saturday.
Lyon are the clear underdogs but they have already shown they can rise up to the big occasions, inflicting Paris St. Germain’s only Ligue 1 defeat of the season a couple of weeks ago. They also beat English champions Manchester City in the Champions League group stage in September.


‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

Updated 59 min 10 sec ago
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‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

  • The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday
  • British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951

PORTRUSH, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that he is not feeling extra pressure this week as the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and is hoping home fans can help him end a five-year major drought.
The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday, despite not having claimed a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship.
He said in the past he struggled being the focus of attention at Irish Opens, although he did win that tournament in 2016.
“I think it’s probably easier this week because it’s such a big tournament,” said McIlroy, who opens his title tilt at Royal Portrush at 0909 GMT on Thursday alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
“I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here. But at the same time, I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.
“I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
McIlroy fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links at the age of just 16 in 2005, and is one of three Northern Irish major champions in the field along with Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
He said his first memories of Portrush came as a child when watching his father play.
“I remember chipping around the chipping green, being seven or eight years of age, my dad out playing on the Dunluce,” added McIlroy, who played a practice round on Tuesday.
“Portrush ... At least the golf club, has been a big part of my upbringing. It’s sort of surreal that it’s here.
“Even driving in yesterday, when you’re coming in on the road and you look to the right and you’ve got the second tee... I don’t know who was teeing off, maybe (American player) Tony Finau and someone else, (it was) sort of strange to see them here.
“But it’s really cool.”
Since McIlroy’s record the course has been renovated, with the seventh and eighth new holes.
But the 30-year-old said he did not have to spend too much time preparing on the course, such is his familiarity with it.
“I had dinner booked with a parent on Saturday night at 8:00, thinking I’m going to have to spend some time around the greens and just prepare.
“And I got on the road back home and rang them and said, ‘Can we move dinner up?’ Because I finished early. There’s no difference. It’s the same golf course.”
McIlroy has been in strong form this year, winning twice, including the Players’ Championship, and posting 11 top-10 finishes.
He also finished in a tie for second at the Open at Carnoustie last year.
“I think it’s probably the most consistent period of golf I’ve ever played,” the 2014 champion said.