Christopher Nkunku has already scored a hat-trick against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League this season. - © IMAGO / Shutterstock
Christopher Nkunku has already scored a hat-trick against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League this season. - © IMAGO / Shutterstock
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5 reasons RB Leipzig can beat Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League

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RB Leipzig and Christopher Nkunku are determined to see out their UEFA Champions League campaign with a victory against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City that would guarantee the Bundesliga side third spot in Group A and with it, a UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off.

bundesliga.com has five reasons why Leipzig will get the better of the English champions...

>> Click here for the Leipzig vs. Man City team news and LIVE blog!

1) All to play for 

Leipzig's hopes of advancing to the knockout stages of this season's Champions League may have ended, but the Bundesliga giants still have European qualification in their sights. A home win in their final Group A game against City would guarantee Die Roten Bullen third spot in the section and with it, a Europa League knockout play-off. With Guardiola's visitors to the Red Bull Arena on Tuesday already guaranteed top spot in the group, Leipzig can take full advantage with a passionate display as they aim to finish behind runners-up Paris Saint-Germain.

The 2019/20 semi-finalists - who scored three times at the Etihad Stadium in an opening Champions League reverse last September - have grown in strength and confidence as this season's tournament has progressed. A 2-2 draw against PSG was most recently followed by a thumping 5-0 win against Europa League play-off rivals Club Brugge.

Goals from Christopher Nkunku, Emil Forsberg (2) and Andre Silva had Leipzig 4-0 in front at half time at the Jan Breydel Stadium in late November. Nkunku added a second late on to complete a confidence-boosting night for Leipzig, who showed exactly what they are capable of ahead of City's visit.

2) Nkunku, a cut above the rest

"He's an absolute joy to watch," said Germany legend and former Champions League winner with Bayern Munich, Philipp Lahm, of Christopher Nkunku. The high-flying Leipzig attacker scored his sixth Bundesliga goal of the campaign in his side's weekend reverse at Union Berlin and with seven goals in the 2021/22 Champions League thus far, the 24-year-old sits third in the tournament's top-scorer rankings, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mo Salah and Karim Benzema. City's Riyad Mahrez is the Cityzen's top marksman in European football's elite competition with four this season, meaning Nkunku - who has also managed eleven shots on target in Europe - holds a clear edge.

"We're very lucky to have him in our team; he's a great player," Leipzig legend Yussuf Poulsen added of his French attacking teammate, who has already racked up a total of 14 goals and nine assists across all competitions since the season's start.

The attacking fun doesn’t stop there, though. Forsberg caught the eye over the summer with his four goals for Sweden at the Euros, but he’s been doing the job for years at Leipzig. Since coming up to the Bundesliga in 2016, he’s been scoring or setting up a goal pretty much every other game on average, including a league-leading 19 in his maiden campaign. His double in that 5-0 victory against Brugge has been among the Swede's highlights this year.

Watch: Nkunku's top 5 Bundesliga goals

3) Solid stats speak volumes

In terms of goalscoring in this season's Champions League, Leipzig have been impressive. With 13 goals in five games, the Saxony-based side are behind only four other teams in the tournament, and all of those are group winners. No other current third-placed team comes close. As many as five players have been on target, with Nkunku (7), Silva (2), Forsberg (2), Nordi Mukiele (1) and Dominik Szoboszlai (1) all finding the net.

As they look to stem City's attacking flair at the other end, Leipzig can point to being the Champions League's top tacklers, mustering 83 tackles to date. Tuesday's hosts can also boast a significant 227 to 188 advantage against their opponents in terms of balls recovered, so Guardiola's side can expect to be under significant pressure throughout their final Group A fixture.

4) Insider knowledge

The Leipzig tacticians will be able to go to Angelino - who has three tournament assists so far - for extra insight on City’s players and approach given that the left-back had been on the books in Manchester since the age of 16. The first 18 months of his time at the Red Bull Arena were on loan before the move was made permanent last summer.

However, Leipzig have another way into the mind of Guardiola. Currently sidelined with a thigh injury, Dani Olmo's knowledge of City coach Guardiola can still come in handy. The attacker spent seven years in the academy at Barcelona at the time the later Bayern coach was in charge at the Camp Nou. With the senior team dominating opposition, that style of play was passed down into the youth teams and Olmo grew up being a disciple of the Guardiola way.

After opting for a move to Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb in a desire to play more and hone his skills, the 23-year-old has emerged as one of the finest playmakers in the game with Leipzig. His Bundesliga figures last season consisted of five goals and nine assists. The latter was the same amount that Jadon Sancho, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman all produced.

On top of that, Olmo had the sixth-most shots in the division with 77 and created a total of 42 chances for teammates. The Spain international’s performances made him hot property during the summer as he went on to play at UEFA Euro 2020 and then also at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He may be watching this particular European encounter from the sidelines, but the knowledge Olmo could bring to this encounter should not be taken lightly.

5) Spirit of 2019/20

2020 won’t go down as anybody’s favourite year, but Leipzig will look back on the 2019/20 campaign with a strong sense of pride. In only their second appearance in the Champions League, Die Roten Bullen made it all the way to the semi-finals in Lisbon, turfing out established names along the way in Benfica, Lyon, Zenit St. Petersburg, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid before finally falling to PSG in the final four.

With so much now at stake going into the final round of fixtures, Leipzig know there is all to play for as they go in search of the victory that would allow them to continue to create more special memories on the European scene.

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