Pep Guardiola and Manchester City travel to Germany to take on RB Leipzig in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie between the two clubs. The two clubs are no strangers facing each other in the group stage of the same competition last season. Both games were a goal-fest with 6-3 win for City in a pulsating game at the Etihad. This game is expected to be no different with both sides possessing strong attacking power.
RB Leipzig: Leipzig will be without Peter Gulasci (ACL) Abdou Diallo (Knee) and Dani Olmo (Thigh) while Christopher Nkunku and Konrad Laimer are expected to be fit to start after a spell on the sidelines.
Manchester City: Guardiola will be without the services of John Stones who remains out injured. Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte have also been left out of City’s 22-man squad for the game in Germany
Over the weekend, Leipzig earned an emphatic 3-0 win against Wolfsburg to keep themselves in the mix for the Bundesliga title. In the immediate short-term, their focus has to be on Manchester City and the game on Wednesday night at home. Last season they managed a 2-1 win against City at home and doing so again in this game is not completely beyond Marco Rose’s side.
Boosted by the return of Christopher Nkunku, the chances that they can pick up a vital win improves greatly. Nkunku has been an attacking catalyst for Leipzig this season and will look to pick up where he left off before injury ruled him out of the World Cup. He won’t be completely alone upfront with Timo Werner providing support in what will be a very pacey frontline against Man City. Defensive disciplined and their ability to take their chances will determined what the Germans come away with at the end of the 90 minutes. Marco Rose would psyche his boys well enough for this tie knowing that Manchester City are in a topsy-turvy run and his side can take advantage of that.
After defeating Arsenal last week, many expected City to kick on from that and maintain a stranglehold on top spot. This wasn’t to be as they stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, a team the emphatically beat in the reverse fixture earlier this season. City controlled the game and even had 23 shots scoring just once and were punished by Forest in a slick move that involved every player getting a touch of the ball before Chris Wood had the easiest of tap-ins at the far post to level it late on. Attention must now shift to a competition that has not been good to Guardiola in his time at the club. The trip to Germany is by no means a walk in the park, with Leipzig providing more than able opposition for the Cityzens.
Erling Haaland returns to Germany once again after a few games of playing the disappearing act, hoping to find some kind of form in this tie. The speed of the opposition’s frontline and their discipline defensively will be a few of the things Guardiola will need to consider in his selection. For whoever gets the nod to start on Wednesday night, the message will be crystal clear. A good controlled performance capped off with a win is the only result that is acceptable. Man City are known to dig holes for themselves in ties like this but with a congested fixture list, it would be completely unwise to not take advantage into next month’s return leg on home soil.
Predicted Starting XIs
RB Leipzig predicted XI vs Man City: Blaswich; Klostermann, Orban, Gvardiol, Raum; Schlager, Laimer; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner; Silva.
Man City predicted XI vs RB Leipzig: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Ake; Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland.