Already guaranteed to finish at the top of the pile in Champions League Group A, Manchester City travel to RB Leipzig for matchday six on Tuesday evening.
Pep Guardiola’s men saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 last time out, while their German hosts put five unanswered goals past Club Brugge.
Club Brugge could have been forgiven for harbouring hopes of victory against a Leipzig side low on both numbers and confidence, but the German side were simply a class above at the Jan Breydel Stadium in a romping 5-0 triumph.
The irrepressible Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg both bagged braces on the night while Andre Silva also made the net ripple, but Leipzig’s fate was sealed as Man City and PSG both booked their last-16 spots on the penultimate matchday.
Leipzig have taken just four points from a possible 15 in Group A – with the win at Brugge their only one in the 2021-22 tournament so far – and they sit level on points with their Belgian counterparts ahead of the final matchday but with a far superior goal difference.
The battle to secure Europa League football is set to go right down to the wire, but Leipzig’s domestic fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, with a 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin on Friday representing their third Bundesliga defeat on the bounce before it was announced that Jesse Marsch had left the club.
The German giants are also winless in their last three Champions League games on home soil and have conceded two in each of their last four European encounters at the Red Bull Arena, but Guardiola’s men do not exactly have much to play for.
City’s dominance against a Marquinhos-inspired PSG counted for nought in the first half of their clash at the Etihad Stadium, and Guardiola’s side had it all to do in the second half as Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring not long after the restart.
However, last season’s runners-up ultimately made their pressure pay off, as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus turned the tie on its head with two quickfire strikes to ensure that City would qualify for the knockout stages in first place.
The Premier League champions have taken 12 points from a possible 15 in Group A and cannot be caught by PSG at this late stage, and they warmed up for this inconsequential tie with a 3-1 win over Watford thanks to a stellar Bernardo Silva display.
The group leaders now head into Tuesday’s game on a seven-game winning streak across all competitions – scoring at least two goals in each of those encounters – but rather surprisingly, they are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League this term.
No fewer than nine goals were scored in City’s Etihad clash with Leipzig back in September as Guardiola’s men ran out 6-3 winners, but the Citizens will be well aware of what Nkunku can produce after his remarkable hat-trick in that fixture.
RB Leipzig Champions League form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
Manchester City Champions League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: RB Leipzig 1-2 Manchester City
Leipzig’s prospects of finding the back of the net are always high with Nkunku leading the charge and the new manager bounce potentially in tow, and City have been uncharacteristically leaky at the back in Europe so far this term.
Guardiola will not allow his side to take their foot off the gas even with qualification assured, though, and with several fringe players hoping to impress, the Premier League champions ought to prevail by a narrow margin.