RB Leipzig vs. Manchester City
European football is coming up! On 22nd February, RBL will host the champions of England Manchester City for the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. Kickoff is at 21:00 (CET) this Wednesday in the sold-out RB-Arena.
A world-class team in City will be coming to Leipzig, and Pep Guardiola, one of the most illustrious names in world football, will be on the sideline. Fittingly, the Catalan’s star line-up is made up almost entirely of international players from top to bottom.
It is difficult to single out any real standout players in this team of world-class footballers, but there are some who will be especially important.
Of course, the same is true for the RBL eleven. Here is a comparison of the key players for both sides and those who could be particularly important on Wednesday.
Janis Blaswich vs. Ederson
Since the serious injury to captain Péter Gulácsi at the beginning of October last year, Janis Blaswich has been the number one. The 31-year-old is a reliable back-up after consistently strong performances in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League. His strengths include his positioning and his sharp reflexes.
City keeper Ederson is much more experienced on the international stage than Blaswich (four Champions League appearances). The number two in the Brazilian national team has already made 64 appearances in the competition. The 29-year-old ball-playing goalkeeper is difficult to beat in one-on-one situations and extremely important for his team’s build-up play. He often takes big risks, however, which can lead to dangerous situations.
Joško Gvardiol vs. Rúben Dias
It is hard to believe that Joško Gvardiol is just 21 years old. For almost two years now, the Croatian, who was outstanding at the World Cup in Qatar, has been an integral part of the central defence at RBL. The defender has great pace and is strong at winning challenges and in his positioning.
Incidentally, following his first season in Leipzig, the renowned football magazine “France Football” nominated Joško as only one of only two defenders for the Kopa Trophy, which goes to the world’s best U21 player.
His counterpart for City is Rúben Dias. It is no wonder that both defenders, with a current market value of around 75 million Euros, are among the most valuable centre-backs on the planet.
The Portuguese, who is particularly strong in the air, leads the Manchester City backline and is very rarely beaten in a challenge. What’s more, the 25-year-old is already a real leader and brings all the desired attributs. Dias was not voted “Premier League Player of the 2020/21 season” for nothing.
Konrad Laimer vs. Ilkay Gündogan
Konrad Laimer could play a decisive role on Wednesday with his skill at winning the ball back. The 25-year-old Austrian knows almost perfectly how to switch to attack right after a successful turnover. An engine in midfield, Laimer covers gaps and creates spaces in transition through runs into deep.
The same applies to Ilkay Gündogan in central midfield. The regard that the German international is held in at City is shown by him becoming captain at the start of this season. The 32-year-old hardly ever loses the ball and is expert at passing, which makes him perfect for Guardiola’s style. In addition, Gündogan creates good chances going forward due to his game intelligence.
Dominik Szoboszlai vs. Kevin De Bruyne
With his magic right foot, Dominik Szoboszlai is a constant source of danger. The Hungarian has only missed two competitive games this season and has recorded five goals and 12 assists in all competitions.
“Szobo” usually plays on the right-hand side of the attacking midfield and is Leipzig’s man for corners, free kicks and spectacular goals from distance.
In City’s top-class midfield there is no overlooking Kevin De Bruyne. The 31-year-old has been pulling the strings in attack since 2015.
Over the last few years, the Belgian has developed into one of the best and most complete players in the world, bringing with him the perfect mix of strength in tackle and passing and shooting technique.
Christopher Nkunku vs. Erling Haaland
There is no question that Christopher Nkunku has become a special talent for RBL. Whether on the wings, as a centre-forward, as a number 10 or even up front, Christo can do it all and is convincing in every position.
The 25-year-old was in top form last season, and the Frenchman (with eight international appearances) has scored a total of 35 goals and made 20 assists for RBL. And this season, too, the top-class player scored 16 times before a torn ligament put him out of action last November. The goal machine is now fit again and ready for his comeback in the top tier of European football.
Since last June, Manchester City have also been able to rely on a giant in front of goal with the signing of Erling Haaland. In the striker, City have managed to fill what was probably the last remaining gap in the centre of attack.
Since his move to England, the 22-year-old has taken the Premier League by storm. The Norwegian already has 26 goals in 23 games. In addition, he has scored five goals in the Champions League and one in the Carabao Cup. Despite his sturdy build and height of 6’4”, Haaland is remarkably quick and extremely agile. The goal-scorer is almost unstoppable with his power, is both-footed and incredibly strong at finishing.