- RB Leipzig host Premier League champions Manchester City at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night in Champions League knockout action.
- The home side have been boosted by the return of key player Christopher Nkunku ahead of the clash, whilst John Stones remains out for the visitors.
- City have won just one of their last five away games, meaning Leipzig could be in line to get a result.
Defender Abdou Diallo has featured in the squad just once since the winter restart for Leipzig and has been out with a knee injury for the past six games. He will miss out once more here, whilst starting goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi remains sidelined due to an ACL injury that he suffered against Celtic back in October. Janis Blaswich will likely continue in between the sticks for the hosts.
Dani Olmo has been struggling with a thigh injury and last appeared at the end of last month, meaning he has missed the previous four games. He is working hard in his recovery but this one will likely be too soon for the Spaniard.
However, coach Marco Rose has been handed a boost with the return of star man Nkunku who made his first appearance for the club since November at the weekend. Willi Orban and Konrad Laimer were also available against Wolfsburg and so they should be good to go here.
Stones will remain out for the Citizens since he has now missed the last four matches due to a hamstring injury. Pep Guardiola has plenty of options to choose from at the centre of defence, with the likes of Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji all available for selection.
Champions League Form
City comfortably topped Group G and went all six group matches undefeated, despite drawing away to Borussia Dortmund and Copenhagen. A 3-1 home win over Sevilla would seal top spot ahead of the German side as Pep continues his search for his first Champions League trophy since 2011.
Leipzig finished just one point behind Group F winners Real Madrid, despite losing their opening two matches. A 4-1 home defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk signalled the end for coach Domenico Tedesco but Rose was able to oversee a dramatic change in fortunes for Die Roten Bullen as they would go on to win all four of their remaining group stage fixtures.
A 3-1 home win over Celtic put Leipzig back on track but a 3-2 victory over heavyweights Real Madrid would prove to be the decisive factor in their qualification. A 4-0 demolition over Shakhtar exacted revenge in their final group match.
UCL 22/23 Key Stats:
Goals For: RB Leipzig 13, Man City 14
Goals Against: RB Leipzig 9, Man City 2
Both Teams To Score %: RB Leipzig 50%, Man City 33.33%
Over 2.5 Goals %: RB Leipzig 66.67%, Man City 66.67%
Leipzig and City were drawn together in last season’s group stage and now meet in the last 16 of this year’s competition. The hosts should take confidence from the fact that they defeated Guardiola’s side 2-1 at the Red Bull Arena back in December 2021. Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva were on the scoresheet as their goals were enough to see off a late comeback, following a goal by Riyad Mahrez.
Nkunku scored a hat-trick at the Etihad in the reverse fixture, despite Leipzig going on to suffer a 6-3 defeat. Both Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus found the fifth and sixth goals respectively to secure the win for City but the pair are no longer at the club. Goals could be on the agenda once more in this tie.
The Bundesliga is set up for one of its most competitive season’s in recent history with Bayern Munich failing to establish their usual significant lead at the summit. Leipzig remain in touching distance and sit just four points behind the league leaders through 21 games.
However, they have been a little inconsistent of late, winning just once in their last three matches. A 0-0 draw away to FC Köln would be followed with a 2-1 defeat at home to Union Berlin but a 3-0 victory on the road against Wolfsburg on Saturday sees them return to winning ways before their huge first leg clash against City.
It has been a whirlwind in the Premier League so far this term and after City defeated Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates last Wednesday, parity seemed to be restored as they returned to the top of the table. However, their lead didn’t last long as a 1-1 draw away to Nottingham Forest saw the Gunners return to the top of the pile.
City’s away form has been far from spectacular this season and they have recorded just one win in their last five on their travels, meaning a result for Leipzig isn’t out of the question. Defeats away to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have been met with better performances but the Citizens do not carry the same weight as they have in recent years.
Predictions & Suggested Bets
RB Leipzig 2-2 Man City @ 12/1 Although Leipzig have been far from perfect at the Red Bull Arena, we can’t look past City’s poor away form. If Leipzig has any chance of progressing in this tie, they need to get a result at home. We can see plenty of goals in this one too, with both teams seeing over two goals in four of their six Champions League group games. Last year’s group games also saw plenty of goals and we are expecting the same this time around.
Christopher Nkunku Anytime Goalscorer @ 11/4 Fresh after returning from injury, Nkunku got some important minutes for Leipzig at the weekend and he will be raring to go to try to find his form once more. It may be a little too early for the Frenchman but he was in fantastic form prior to his injury, scoring 12 goals in 16 league appearances, as well as registering three goals in the Champions League group stages. We’re backing him to strike against City here.
Rodri To Attempt 90+ Passes @ 5/6 City usually control possession and we can see that being the case here as Leipzig will want to try and shore up the defence as best as they can. Leipzig also average less possession in the Champions League than they do in the Bundesliga. Rodri will likely be controlling the tempo at the base of the midfield and he attempted over 100 passes in recent matches against Aston Villa and Spurs.
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