Manchester City are set to take on RB Leipzig tomorrow night in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg at 8 pm (GMT), live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
It’s the first time City will be playing since they dropped points thanks to a late Chris Wood equalizer against Nottingham Forest.
Despite not securing the win it was a great performance from the Blues, and that sentiment was echoed in Pep Guardiola’s post-match press conference:
"The last game against Nottingham was highest standards, I loved the way we play after we don't win because it's football. Sometimes happens, I can not have an answer on what happened for this type of situation. But today we trained and yeah the team is there. That doesn't mean we're going to win or get results. But I have a good feeling. Honestly."
The biggest news that was revealed today is that both Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte were absent from training and won’t be in tomorrow’s squad.
Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that both players are expected to miss due to illness.
Reports that Kyle Walker also missed training are untrue, the 32-year-old was spotted in training and was named in the travelling squad.
With De Bruyne out, that likely means that the Bernardo Silva left-back experiment will not be featured against Leipzig, unless Guardiola decides to play Phil Foden in midfield.
Guardiola was asked once again about Foden’s ability to play centrally. However, his answer gave a lot of insight into why we so rarely see him play there:
"He can play there, still I have the feeling he's still young. Some maturity to understand what happens in the middle to read what happens. Because when you play [on the wing] you are moving the right, do these kinds of things, in the middle many things happen and you have to read what happens to react properly. And still, he's young. The skills he can do it absolutely."
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake, Rodri, Bernardo, Gundogan, Grealish, Haaland, Foden
It’s been a bounce-back year for Leipzig so far this season. The club finished fourth, 19 points behind Bayern Munich after losing Julian Nagelsmann and Marcel Sabitzer to the champions.
In his pre-match press conference, Guardiola spoke to Leipzig’s quality:
"Right after the draw, I felt that it would be a real tough opponent. From my experience facing the opponent, should be confident for us, but it's completely different. We know the quality of them for many years. A culture for young players, recruitment, physicality, clear patterns of play, go to the channels, a lot of play in the middle, physicality in German football in the transition they are unstoppable."
This year they currently sit 5th but are just four points behind Bayern, Dortmund and Union Berlin who all currently share the top spot. Leipzig have been plagued by long term injuries to Peter Gulacsi, Abdou Diallo, Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku.
Despite the injuries to key positions all over the pitch, Leipzig had gone 18 games unbeaten until a 2-1 loss to Union Berlin a week and a half ago.
However, Nkunku made a cameo appearance in the 3-0 against Wolfsburg this weekend and even grabbed an assist. The expectation is that the Frenchman will be fit enough to start for Wednesday night's clash.
If Nkunku is not healthy enough to start, the two attackers to keep an eye on will be Dominik Szoboszlai and Timo Werner, who have stepped up due to his absence.
Last season’s group stage was the first and only time the two sides have faced off. City won the first outing in a thrilling 6-3 scoreline, with Leipzig winning 2-1 in the second fixture.
Referee: Serdar Gozubuyuk
Assistants: Erwin Zeinstra & Johan Balder
Fourth Official: Joey Kooij
VAR: Pol van Boekel
Assistant VAR: Dennis Higler
It will be a Dutch officiating crew for the match. Gozubuyuk has been in charge of two City matches previously. His first was City’s 2-0 victory over Dynamo Zagreb in 2019, and the second was in the thrilling 6-3 win over Leipzig last season. Gozubuyuk made a few notable decisions in that game, including awarding City a penalty as well as sending off Angelino.
Written by: @IVIeehan
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