Manchester City welcome RB Leipzig to the Etihad as Pep Guardiola once again aims for UEFA Champions League glory.
Manchester City open their latest UEFA Champions League campaign by welcoming German hotshots RB Leipzig to the Etihad.
Pep Guardiola’s side made it to the final of the competition last season only to be outdone by Premier League rivals Chelsea. It was the closest the Catalan had come to continental glory during his time with the club.
Despite much domestic glory, the lack of continental success weighs down heavily on Guardiola’s reign at Manchester City. Whether this is the season he cements his legacy as an all-time great remains to be seen.
RB Leipzig, meanwhile, go into the tournament in the midst of their own rebuild. They not only lost manager Julian Nagelsmann to Bayern Munich but also star defenders Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.
With Ibrahima Konate also having joined Liverpool, Leipzig have endured a difficult start to the campaign. They have won just one of their four matches in the Bundesliga so far and find themselves in the 12th spot.
This is in stark contrast to City, who have won three of their four games so far. The Germans face a pivotal season ahead and could come across their baptism of fire against City. If their performance against Bayern Munich at the weekend is anything to go by, they are in for a long night indeed.
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Nights under the lights! ?
City are back in @ChampionsLeague action on Wednesday night as we take on RB Leipzig – make sure you're there! ⬇️
? #ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 13, 2021
Manchester City suffered a shocking defeat on the opening day of the season against Tottenham Hotspur. They have since regrouped and appear to be back to their best. Guardiola’s side have since won all three games while scoring 11 goals and conceding none. More so, they are also set to welcome back a couple of their big-hitters for the game. It is fair to say that the tie as it stands is City’s to lose.
Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden have recovered from their injuries and were on the bench against Leicester City at the weekend. Their return to contention will give Guardiola options in midfield and attack. Reserve keeper Zack Steffen has tested positive for coronavirus and has been ruled out of the game. French full-back Benjamin Mendy is still in police custody and it is unknown what the future holds for him
The Premier League giants have an otherwise full squad to choose from. City’s first XI more or less picks itself. Ederson is a sure shot starter in goal and will feature behind the defensive duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo will be tasked with offering the width on the flanks. With De Bruyne back, he will almost certainly start in midfield alongside Rodri and the impressive Ilkay Gundogan. The Spaniard will be tasked to do the dirty work as his midfielder partners look to weave their magic going forward.
It will be interesting to see if Guardiola will hand Jack Grealish his Champions League debut. With Sterling back fit, the former Aston Villa star could come off the bench against Leipzig. The excellent Ferran Torres could start up front, flanked by Sterling and Riyad Mahrez. Once they get going, this City side can be unstoppable.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Torres, Sterling
Next stop: Manchester ?
?⚪ #WeAreLeipzig #MCIRBL pic.twitter.com/xAhAXv7M1O
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) September 14, 2021
Jesse Marsch took over from Julian Nagelsmann in the summer and will look to implement the impressive attacking style he made use of RB Salzburg. The American has not had the best of starts and goes into the match on the back of a 4-1 drubbing against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. It would not come as a surprise if City repeat the trick this Wednesday.
The Germans have the tools to adopt an attacking mindset and could cause City trouble if they turn up on the night. Losing the likes of Upamecano, Konate and Sabitzer in the same window was bound to cause a drop-off. It would appear that Leipzig are still figuring out how to cope in the aftermath.
Marsch will be without Marcelo Saracchi and Marcel Halstenberg on the night. The former is recovering from a cruciate ligament tear while the latter is nursing an ankle injury. Hungarian international Peter Gulacsi will start in goal behind the duo of Mohamed Simakan and Willi Orban. Lukas Klostermann is expected to start at right-back while former City star Angelino will occupy the other flank.
A double pivot of Amadou Haidara and Tyler Adams will be tasked with keeping the City midfield in check. The duo could have their work cut out against their most illustrious opponents.
Emil Forsberg came off the bench for Dani Olmo in the loss to Bayern at the weekend. The roles could be reversed this time around with the Swede acting as the main attacking threat from midfield. Add to it his set-piece prowess and Leipzig could take advantage of any slip-ups.
Forsberg will be joined in midfield by the duo of Dominik Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku. Both players are adept down the wing and could be lethal on the counters. The Cancelo-Nkunku duel in particular will be interesting to watch. Dani Olmo impressed against Bayern on the weekend and would be an excellent option off the bench if needed.
Summer signing Andre Silva will lead the line on the night. The Portuguese ace enjoyed a prolific last season and much is expected of him this time around. While he is yet to get going, there is no better time than now to rediscover his shooting boots.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Orban, Simakan, Angelino; Haidara, Adams; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Nkunku; Silva
- This will be the first meeting between Manchester City and RB Leipzig in European competitions.
- Pep Guardiola’s side won all four of their games against German opponents in the UEFA Champions League last season. (vs Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach).
- RB Leipzig have met English opposition in the UEFA Champions League on six occasions. They have won three games (Tottenham Hotspur x2 and Manchester United) while losing the remaining three (Manchester United and Liverpool x2).
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 17 games in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (Won 14 and drawn 4).
- If they win on the night, Manchester City could become the second-fastest team to 50 wins in the tournament’s history.
Player to Watch
Not many players can claim to have outscored Erling Haaland in recent years. The Portuguese ace did just that in the Bundesliga last season. In fact, only Robert Lewandowski outscored him in the German top-flight last season. Now at Leipzig, the 25-year-old has scored just one in five games, while also grabbing two assists. He cut a frustrated figure against Bayern and will look to make amends.
While he is not the most prolific of strikers, he showed last season that he could be on the verge of finally living up to his potential. A standout performance at the Etihad is sure to get him noticed.
Marsch’s Salzburg side was excellent in attack and he appears to be doing the same at Leipzig. However, it is in its infancy and will take time to come up to full speed. Until then the onus is on Silva to lead the line and be the primary goalscorer the manager can rely on. Whether he can go up against country Roben Dias remains to be seen.
Manchester City 3-0 RB Leipzig
While Leipzig are a work in progress, Manchester City are as close to the finished product as possible. The Sky Blues go into the game as heavy favourites and will be expected to get the job done. Guardiola’s side are keen to go one better in the Champions League this season and will be keen to get off the mark at home. Unless Leipzig plays out of their skins, it should prove to be a straightforward win for Pep Guardiola’s side.
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