Manchester City head to the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday with a mountain to climb if they are to defeat retaining champions Lyon in the semi-final of the UEFA Women's Champions League.
The Blues head to the home of the European heavyweights looking to overcome a 3-1 deficit following their first leg loss in Manchester.
City are outclassed by Lyon in first leg defeat
City, who are bidding to make history by becoming the first British side to reach a Women's Champions League final, since Arsenal won the UEFA Women's Cup in 2007, went into the first leg tie full of confidence.
They won the Women's Super League 1 title in September and added the WSL Contintental Cup in October - this was teamed with success in both their respected cup competitions. Not only has Nick Cushing's side defeated Zvezda 2005 and Danish sides Brondby and Fortuna Hjorring to reach the semi's in Europe, but the Sky Blues will also make history on the 13th May at Wembley when they compete in the SSE Women's FA Cup final for the first time in the club's history.
However, with City in their debut campaign in Europe they headed in to the first leg as underdogs and unfortunately for them it showed. The French champions experience was the difference in Manchester as they were outclassed by a star-studded Lyon team, who proved why they are deemed such a heavyweight in Women's football.
Most had predicted a tough test for City, not least manager Cushing, against a team who have won the competition three times and reached the final on an impressive five occasions.
Lyon looked set to spoil City's party from the kick-off. After only three minutes Saki Kumagai hit the ball against Carli Lloyd's arm and referee Katalin Kulcsar awarded a penalty against the US captain. The Blues showed resilence only seven minutes later as Kosavare Asllani latched onto substitute Toni Duggan's defence splitting pass to slip the ball passed Sarah Bouhaddi in the Lyon goal. But, Dzenifer Marozsan put Lyon deservedly back in front on 16 minutes.
France striker Eugenie Le Sommer put the third away in historic fashion after the break to put her side in control and put Lyon in the driving seat going into the second leg.The 27-year-old's strike was her 26th goal of the season in all competitions and her 200th goal in Lyon colours.
How can City improve?
For a team like Manchester City who usually dominate posession in matches, It can come as a surprise when you face a Lyon side that will posess the ball for long periods of the match. Nevertheless, this was expected by Cushing and his team. And the key to overcome this was to counter-attack on the break when the opportunity arrises, this is easier said than done when City found it difficult to retain the ball when they won back posession.
Speaking after the first leg, Cushing said: "We’d spoken about trying to start quickly and putting Lyon into a game where they would have to work hard and get their level really high. The early penalty knocked the wind out of us a little bit but I was proud that we got ourselves back in the game and carried on playing.
"We’re as good and we can cause them problems. We highlighted where they were weak and we exploited them when we kept the ball and recognised that we could hit them early," the City boss added.
City stars need to shine
One of the main answers for the English side is Lucy Bronze. Bronze, who is one of, if not the best right back in the world at this present time, provides an all-round game which would most definitely allow her to walk into any of the world's best teams. Just days after winning the Professional Footballers' Association Women's Player of the Year award for the second time, the Northumberland native will need to be at her best on both accounts this weekend - not only will her attacking abilities be vital for City going forward but her defensive cabilities will no doubt be tested at the back by Lyon's formidable front line.
Manchester City will undoubtedly look to Carli Lloyd to produce a moment of magic in the second leg-tie. Lloyd, who signed a short‑term deal from Houston Dash in mid february, is known for producing game-winning plays in big matches. The 34-year-old scored the winner in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals for the US and a hat‑trick in the 2015 World Cup final triumph against Japan. The American recently scored the winner in City’s Champions League quarter-final first leg victory at Fortuna and the Sky Blues will hope Lloyd can once again produce the goods against Lyon on Saturday.
Lyon boast a high calibre of players in all areas of the pitch but their attacking line is certainly something for opposing teams to be envious of. City's backline will have to be on their toes this saturday when they face the partnership of Ada Hegerberg, Alex Morgan and Eugenie Le Sommer.
Which British teams have made the Champions League semi-finals?
Ater it's renaming in 2009-10, the Women's Champions League has hosted a handful of British teams, but which Women's Super League teams have made it to the semi-finals?
As expected, Arsenal are the most successful British team in European competition. The Gunners won the European Cup in 2007 - during Arsenal's most successful season in which they also won all three domestic trophies - they defeated Umea in a 1-0 victory to become the first and only British side to win the competition. Since the renaming of the cup Arsenal have reached the semi-final on three occasions - losing to Lyon, FFC Frankfurt and Wolfsburg.
The most recent team to reach the semi's was Birmingham City in 2014. Their 2nd-place finish in the league qualified Birmingham for the 2013–14 UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32. After defeating PK-35 Vantaa, Zorky Krasnogorsk and Arsenal, their impressive run ended against Tyreso FF with a 3-0 aggregate defeat in the semi-finals.
Many will be hoping Manchester City can pull off an unexpected comeback against Lyon on Saturday to take their European dream once step further.