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UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, Leg 1, LEP vs MCI Preview and Fantasy Prediction

By Real11 - Feb 22 2023 642 Views
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 UEFA Champions League

Round of 16, Leg 1, LEP vs MCI

Preview 

On Wednesday night, Manchester City will begin their Champions League knockout campaign with an away match against RB Leipzig in Germany. The Citizens will be looking to avenge their 2-1 defeat from the group stage of last season's competition.

Despite losing their first two matches against Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid, Leipzig managed to qualify for the last 16 as runners-up of Group F by winning their remaining four games, including a 3-2 home victory over Los Blancos. The team had an impressive 18-game unbeaten run across all competitions between October 2021 and February 2022, which was ended by a 2-1 home loss against Union Berlin in the Bundesliga. However, they bounced back with a 3-0 away victory over Wolfsburg last weekend.

Leipzig are currently fifth in the Bundesliga table, but only five points separate the top six teams with 13 games remaining. They face upcoming clashes with Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund, but first, they must prepare for their third last-16 encounter with an English club. In 2019-20, they beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 on aggregate before losing to Liverpool by the same scoreline in 2020-21.

Leipzig will remember their home victory over Man City last season, where they beat the Citizens 2-1, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva on the scoresheet before Kyle Walker was sent off in the closing stages. They will be confident of claiming a positive result against City, who have been inconsistent in recent weeks.

City were dealt a blow in their quest to retain the Premier League crown, as they were held to a 1-1 draw away at Nottingham Forest last weekend, despite dominating possession and having 23 shots. The team has failed to win four of their last five away matches in all competitions and has dropped seven points in seven Premier League games. They are currently two points behind leaders Arsenal, having played a game more.

Guardiola's side is competing in the Champions League knockout rounds for the tenth successive year, having won four and drawn two of their six group-stage matches to top Group G ahead of Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, and Copenhagen. They hope to advance from the last 16 for the sixth consecutive season.

Before their loss against Leipzig last season, City had an unbeaten run of 15 games against German opposition in the Champions League, including a 6-3 victory over Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium in September 2021. The Citizens will look to perform well on Wednesday and gain an advantage to take into the second leg on home soil next month. Guardiola has previously stated that winning the Champions League is essential for his tenure at City to be complete.

 

Form Guide 

LEP: LLWWWW (Champions League), WWWDLW (all competitions)

MCI: WWWDDW (Champions League), WWLWWD (all competitions)

 

Team News

LEP: Leipzig will be without the services of Peter Gulacsi, Dani Olmo and Abdou Dialoo due to respective injuries, but the Germans will be bolstered by the return of Christopher Nkunku and Konrad Laimer, who both came off the bench last weekend. 

After being three months on the sidelines with a knee injury, Nkunku made his long awaited return last weekend. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be fully fit to start on Wednesday as he failed to complete a training session o0n Tuesday; Andre Silva could therefore get a nod up front with support from Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg and Dominik Szoboszlai in the final third. 

Laimer mustered to shake off a thigh injury to compete against Wolfsberg and he could return to the starting XI to partner Xaver Schlager in centre midfield, while promising centre back Josko Gvardiol is set to continue alongside Willi Orban, who came back to the side against Wolfsberg. 

Rose may look to make changes at the full back position, with Lukas Klostermann hoping to ward off competition from Mohammed Simakan and Benjamin Henrichs for the right back role, while Marcel Halstenberg will be aspiring to start ahead of David Raum at left back.

MCI: For Manchester City, John Stones remains out as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury, while Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne are unavailable due to illness. 

In each of the last 11 fixtures in all competitions, Guardiola has made at least one change to his back line, and further changes could be on the cards against Leipzig, with Nathan Ake, Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji all striving to make their way back into the starting XI.

Bernando Silva could play as a makeshift left back, manoeuvring in a deep-lying Midfielder position along with Rodri when City are in possession, while the unavailability of De Bruyne may see either Kalvin Phillips or Phil Foden join skipper Ilkay Gundogan in the middle. 

Riyad Mahrez could earn a place in the starting XI and operate on the right flank, while Erlin Braut Haaland- who has found the back of the net six times in previous four meetings against Leipzig- is set to lead the front line. 

 

Probable Starting XIs

LEP: Blaswich; Klostermann, Orban, Gvardiol, Raum; Schlager, Laimer; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner; Silva

MCI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Ake; Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, Gundogan, Foden, Grealish; Haaland

 

Match Prediction

Our scoreline prediction: LEP 1-2 MCI

Besides the away win against Arsenal, Man City have been far from their best in recent weeks, and another testing encounter could be in store on Wednesday as Leipzig have formerly shown their potency going forward against City.  However, the men in blue tend to bounce back from appalling results and we fancy Pep’s main men to make the difference in this tie. 

 

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