It’s all square after the first leg in Germany, but who will be booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals? Here’s our Man City vs RB Leipzig prediction and preview ahead of the big game.
Man City vs RB Leipzig: The Quick Hits
- Man City will secure qualification into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with victory over RB Leipzig, according to the Opta pre-match prediction.
- The win would equal Arsenal’s record of 24 successive home matches unbeaten in the competition, the most by an English club.
- It looks set to be a fifth successive UCL knockout stage game without a win for the Germans.
Of the four UEFA Champions League matchups this week, Man City versus RB Leipzig is the most evenly poised heading into the second leg of their round of 16 clash, following their 1-1 draw last month.
Marco Rose must be sick of the sight of Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages. This will be his fourth-such match in the competition, with the previous three all coming against City. He was formerly in charge of Borussia Mönchengladbach when they were eliminated by the club in the last 16 in 2020-21.
His hopes of success this time around won’t be helped by the injury sustained by Christopher Nkunku. The French forward has scored 10 goals across this last 12 starts in the competition, including a hat-trick the last time the two sides faced off at the Etihad Stadium in September 2021. Whether he will be able to shake off the thigh injury that kept him out of the weekend’s action is looking less and less likely.
Meanwhile, Erling Haaland will be hoping to build upon the home form in the Champions League that has made him such a threat. He’s scored 17 goals in 11 home matches, scoring at least two goals in seven of them with an average strike rate of a goal every 49 minutes.
And one issue for Leipzig is that England hasn’t proved a welcome trip for them in recent times. Their last three such away games in the competition have resulted in defeats and resounding ones at that, conceding 13 goals in the process.
Add in that Manchester City are unbeaten across their 23 home matches in the competition, winning 21 of them, and it sounds like a recipe for disaster. But City have won just one of their last four matches (D2 L1) against German opponents in the competition, having won nine consecutively previously. And the first leg only added to those recent woes.
RB Leipzig 1-1 Manchester City – 22 February 2023
It was a game that Man City looked set to dominate from the outset, putting the German hosts under plenty of pressure. Riyad Mahrez’s opener the reward for 45 minutes of play that saw them record 74% possession and give up just one opportunity to their opponents.
However, their failure to make their dominance came back to slightly bite them in the second half. With more ambition being shown by Marco Rose’s side, Joško Gvardiol’s header 20 minutes from time ensured their own unbeaten run in the competition expanded to five matches, their longest since a seven-game stretch in the 2019-20 season where they reached the semi-finals.
One nugget of note from this game – Pep Guardiola didn’t make any substitutions in the match, the first manager to do so since Jose Mourinho at Manchester United in October 2018 (vs Juventus). It’s likely we won’t see the same on this occasion but who knows what the Spaniard might have up his sleeves for this one.
Both sides picked up victories in their respective domestic fixtures coming into Tuesday’s tie.
A 1-0 victory from the penalty spot against a struggling opponent might not seem like the most resounding of performances to the naked eye, but Man City were rewarded for their patience against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Erling Haaland netting his 28th league goal of the campaign as his quest for the single season record in the Premier League continued, although the Cityzens still remain five points off Arsenal at the summit.
Without the injured Nkunku and needing a spark following their previous weekend’s defeat to Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig produced a dominant second-half performance to see off Borussia Monchengladbach and maintain their own slight Bundesliga title hopes.
Timo Werner opening the floodgates and it will be interesting to see if the former Chelsea striker will have a role to play at the Etihad. Every time he has scored in the Bundesliga this season, RB Leipzig have failed to lose (seven).
All that adds into the fact that something is going to have to give in this second leg. City have won 14 home matches in the UEFA Champions League since the start of the 2020-21 season (D1 L0), which is three more than any other side. However, Leipzig have won consecutive away games in the competition. They have previously won three on the bounce on the road in the competition (2017-19), what better time to equal that feat and advance to the knockout stages.
Players to Watch
Manchester City: Riyad Mahrez
When it comes to the big moments in a season, sometimes is the less likely of stars who shine. And for Man City – Riyad Mahrez has proven himself somewhat of a star in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
The Algerian found the back of the net in the first leg after combining well with Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish, but it’s not just with the finishing touch he’s proved decisive. Mahrez has been involved in 11 goals across his last 12 starts in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (seven goals, four assists) and has also netted in all three matches against RB Leipzig.
That strike last time out made him the fifth African player to score 20 or more goals in the competition, putting his name alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah (44), Didier Drogba (44), Samuel Eto’o (30) and Sadio Mane (27). All four of those have lifted the European Cup trophy – something Mahrez and his City teammates will be desperate to replicate this season.
RB Leipzig: Joško Gvardiol
An RB Leipzig goalscorer who’s attracted attention from a wealth of Premier League sides that isn’t called Christoper Nkunku? The metaphoric shop window will once again be on full display for centre-half Gvardiol as it seems increasingly likely he will becoming the most expensive defender in the world come this off-season.
Whether it’s Chelsea, Liverpool or even Wednesday’s opponents who end up landing the Croatian – the sides know they’ll be getting a player who have proved more than comfortable with the ball at his feet in the UEFA Champions League this season. Only one player has attempted more passes (472) and had more successful passes in their own half (279) than Gvardiol and that’s his centre-back partner Willi Orban.
The pair will certainly find themselves under stiff pressure from Guardiola’s press in this tie – whether they can remain cool under pressure and find the perfect pass to their teammates could be the difference.
Man City vs RB Leipzig Prediction
It probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise this, but the Opta supercomputer prediction is that Manchester City will beat RB Leipzig on Tuesday night and secure their place in the quarterfinals.
As well as being favourites to win the game (67.9%), even if it does go to extra-time and penalties, our supercomputer is still backing City to advance with a 76.7% chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
Their hopes for a first ever UEFA Champions League/European Cup success also remain high, being our second favourites (18.5%) to take the crown, behind only Bayern Munich (33.6%), but ahead of the likes of Napoli (16.1%), Real Madrid (11.1%) and Internazionale (5.1%).