Manchester City’s quest for a maiden European title continues when they travel to RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League. This will be the first leg played in the round-of-16 tie between the two teams. The English champions will face an RB Leipzig side full of talented players. Both teams have high ambitions for winning this championship.
Pep Guardiola has set his eyes on the prize. The Spanish manager is in the hunt for a European title since he last won it with Barcelona. Last season, they lost the semi-finals to Real Madrid in the final moments of the match. This season, there is no room for errors for Pep’s men. Let us look at some of the stats that show their performances on the group stage.
Finishing at the top in the group stage
Manchester City were tied with Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, and FC Copenhagen in the group stage. Pep’s men ended the group stage unbeaten with four wins and two draws. They started the competition with three wins in a row. The next two matches didn’t go in the way that anybody would have expected. Both matches ended in a goalless draw. City ended Group G on a high with a win over Sevilla in the last match.
The above pizza chart shows the percentile rank of Manchester City in comparison to other teams in the UEFA Champions League. Manchester City were a dominant force in the first six matches. They have very high percentile ranks, which is one of the reasons why they are in contention to win this title.
A dominant attacking force
Manchester City are a team famous for their attacking displays. They managed to score 14 goals in the tournament with an average xG rate of 2.3 per match. They scored 11 goals in the first three matches and kind of stopped after that. City players attempted 16.33 shots per match and had an accuracy rate of 41.8%. The above viz shows that most goals were scored from the edge of the six-yard box.
Pep Guardiola’s men like to attack from the left flank, as shown in the ball progression map. One of the reasons behind this was Joao Cancelo’s involvement in that particular wing. His transfer to Bayern Munich means that the momentum could shift to either side. However, it can’t be ignored that most of the attacks came from that particular side.
Other than this, the team also likes to put crosses inside the opposition’s penalty box. Manchester City have an average of 20.33 crosses per match with a 26.2% accuracy rate. They enjoy a high success rate from the right flank. The dispatching zones indicate that there are more box penetrations from the left side than from the right side.
Erling Haaland was the go-to man for Pep Guardiola in the group stage. The Norwegian featured in four matches and scored five goals. He averaged 1.78 goals per 90 minutes. Erling Haaland has brought a lot of changes to Manchester City’s attack. He has found space inside the opposition penalty box and scored goals. In the UEFA Champions League, he averaged 4.98 shots per 90 minutes and had a 50% accuracy rate. Most of the shots were attempted from inside the penalty box, where he averaged 7.83 touches per 90 minutes. The German side have faced him previously when Haaland used to play for Dortmund. He will look to break Leipzig’s defence and give his side an advantage in the tie.
Keeping hold of the possession
Pep Guardiola’s team likes to press high and keep hold of the ball. They averaged 65.35% possession in the group stage. City players don’t keep the ball for long at their feet. They averaged 719.67 passes per match and had a high accuracy rate of 90.7%.
Manchester City players provided eight assists from the shot assists they made this season. Shot assists often come from set pieces like corners and mostly from the plays created. Manchester City players like to whip in crosses, especially low, so that Haaland can stretch his long legs and find the back of the net. They are masters of putting the ball in the opposition’s six-yard box. RB Leipzig’s defence will have a huge task on their hands.
Can RB Leipzig cause an upset?
The German team won’t allow their English opponents to take the tie that easily. They finished second in Group F behind Real Madrid. RB Leipzig lost the first two matches of the group stage and went on to win the next four in a row. This run of four wins even included a famous 3-2 win at home against Real Madrid. They are also in the hunt for a major European title.
RB Leipzig scored 13 goals and conceded nine. They had an average xG rate of 1.85. RB Leipzig have been decent with the ball. They are ranked above average in the possession department. Overall, the team was ranked above average and managed to get the results to qualify.
RB Leipzig can hurt their opponents with their counterattacking skills and pace. The team averaged 32.8 positional attacks and 3.17 counterattacks per match. Manchester City will have to deal with the pace of the opposition players and stop them from breaking. This could turn out to be an end-to-end match.
RB Leipzig will be without their first-choice goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi. Dani Olmo and Abdou Diallo are also sidelined due to injuries. Christopher Nkunku has recovered from injury and is likely to feature in this match.
Manchester City’s travelling squad was without John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne. These players are set to miss the match.
Manchester City are the favourites to win this match. As per the 1×2 betting odds, the English champions have a winning odds rate of 1.9. The odds for a draw are 3.7, while RB Leipzig’s odds rate is around 4.2. Manchester City are expected to win this match. As for the over/under line, the over lines might thrive as both teams like to attack. The rate for goals over 2.5 is 1.84.
Manchester City will look to show dominance in the first leg. Pep Guardiola is targeting this particular trophy this season. He will demand his team seal the tie in the first leg. However, it won’t be easy for them to beat RB Leipzig. The tie is set to offer plenty of excitement.
Visuals via Wyscout