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Home » Leipzig Given Opportunity to Pull Off Unexpected Champions League Victory Thanks to Manchester City’s Second-Half Struggles

Leipzig Given Opportunity to Pull Off Unexpected Champions League Victory Thanks to Manchester City’s Second-Half Struggles

23 February 2023, Thursday
Manchester City were held to a 1-1 tie in their Champions League last-16 first leg clash with RB Leipzig at Red Bull Arena.
Riyad Mahrez netted his 12th goal in the past 20 games as City most dominated in the first half, yet the game altered in the second period, with the Bundesliga outfit unlucky to settle for Josko Gvardiol's equalizer after a fine show following the restart.

The Etihad Stadium outfit will still be reckoned as the pre-eminent candidates for the second leg in two weeks' time, yet Leipzig will now be hopeful of creating an upset.

The supporters of RB Leipzig displayed a banner during the first half which announced "We're on our way to Istanbul". By the half-time break, that banner had been taken down, as it looked like City's dominance in the opening period meant that their passage to the Champions League final wasn't likely to be completed at the Red Bull Arena. 

Nevertheless, the second half saw a revitalized Leipzig who outplayed their opponents and created several good opportunities. This makes their fans believe that they may still be able to make it to the finale in Istanbul, and they will be packing the banner for their trip to the Etihad Stadium on March 14th. It appears that those optimistic Leipzigers won't be canceling any of their reservations to Turkey just yet.

Guardiola appeared disheartened during the last half and after the completion of the game collected his team in the midpoint of the ground for a breakdown before sending them off to clap the attending supporters in the edge of the Red Bull Arena. Erling Haaland was remarkably muted with the Norwegian only having one distinct opportunity which he went off course on.

City had an apparently valid appeal for a penalty late when it seemed that Henrichs fended off Rodri's header but ultimately the guests were content with snatching a draw from Leipzig.

Manchester City are still expected to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament for the sixth consecutive season, though the second half of their latest match revealed the same vulnerability that has been present in their Premier League performances.

At the start, City were in total control; however, the introduction of Benjamin Heinrichs at the break helped to give Leipzig more of an offensive impetus. Eventually, Gvardiol netted an equaliser that was justly earned by the German side, who also had two further good chances to make it 1-0. On another day, they might have led at the Etihad Stadium.

For all the discussion of Guardiola's graceful attacking style, he detests conceding chances and he will be worried that City have only kept four clean sheets in 15 games since the World Cup. Gvardiol's strike was also the fifth City have yielded from corners in this campaign and the third in the Champions League.

Erling Haaland and Mahrez's form makes them always threatening in front of goal, yet their defence can occasionally be strained and Leipzig were the newest team to profit from this.

RB Leipzig have lofty ambitions of repeating their impressive Champions League knockout round performances, but know it could be a near-impossible task, with their best players commonly being poached by more affluent clubs. France international Christopher Nkunku, who was only a reserve in the tie against City due to continuing injury issues, will join Chelsea during the transfer window, and World Cup star, 21-year-old centre-back Gvardiol, looks increasingly likely to follow suit. Likewise, Timo Werner returned to Leipzig after two years of representing Chelsea, having left through a hefty transaction back in 2020.

Marcel Sabitzer, who were both key to taking the club to the Champions League semifinals in 2020, to rivals Bayern Munich. However, it would be optimistic to assume the club will always be able to do so. This is exemplified by Sabitzer's situation, having been taken by Bayern in August 2021, only to then struggle to gain a place in the team. Ultimately, he ended up being loaned out to Manchester United in January.

It is expected that Sabitzer will leave Bayern permanently in the summer, and it will come as no surprise that they have again gone to Leipzig in an attempt to replace him, with Konrad Laimer set to move there when the season comes to an end.
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