Xavi and Loïs Openda have helped RB Leipzig into the UEFA Champions League knockouts with room to spare - can they inspire victory away to holders Manchester City in their penultimate group game? bundesliga.com thinks so...
1) Up, up and away
Given their club philosophy is based around disrupting opponents with intensive pressing and attacking with youthful vigour, it is no surprise to see Leipzig have developed a strong away record in the Champions League group stage.
Their 2-1 win in Belgrade at the start of November was the club’s fourth successive away Champions League victory. They have won nine times on the road in Europe since first making the Champions League in 2017, and have lost only seven away group stage matches in that time.
Leipzig are a side that often save the best for their travels – and what better way for the current crop of talents at the club to show just what they are capable of by landing a win at the home of the reigning European champions?
2) The X(avi) factor
On the subject of Leipzig’s glittering talents, none are shining as brightly as 20-year-old Dutch playmaker Xavi right now.
The Paris Saint-Germain loanee followed up his brilliant strike in the 3-1 home win over Red Star in October with an early goal in the return fixture in Belgrade at the start of the month. The creative genius scored his fourth goal of the Bundesliga season in Leipzig’s final fixture before the November international break – with a fine drive into the bottom corner in a 3-1 win over Freiburg – and also chipped in with his seventh assist of the league campaign to date.
He is sure to want to seize the chance to show his staggering range of tricks, eye for a killer pass, and sharp shooting ability on one of the biggest stages Leipzig are set to grace this season in Manchester.
Watch: A Xavi highlight reel
3) Main Openda
Openda has hit the ground running at Leipzig, and hit it off in a big way with Xavi. The Belgium international has nine goals and three assists to show for his first 12 Bundesliga appearances, as well as two strikes in four Group G games.
Only Victor Boniface and Harry Kane have fired off more goal attempts than the Leipzig forward, who will be quietly confident of getting chances and adding to his goals tally against a City defence that's shipped five goals across their last two games.
Watch: Loïs Openda was an October Player of the Month nominee
4) Pressure off
The main business has already been settled ahead of the meeting in Manchester. Whatever happens, City and Leipzig are assured of progress to the Champions League knockout stages in the spring.
Leipzig would have to equal or better City’s 3-1 win in Leipzig to have a chance of dislodging the English champions at the top of Group G. The fact this is rather unlikely might just play into the minds of the City players or Pep Guardiola’s team selection – with the match sandwiched between key Premier League fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
On the other hand, with expectations against them, Leipzig have little to lose. They can go out to play in their usual fearless manner with every hope of rattling the holders should they drop their high standards in the slightest.
5) Gvardiol's kryptonite
Plenty of Leipzig players and staff will be looking forward to the chance to see Joško Gvardiol again after he swapped Germany for the north of England in the summer.
Conventional football wisdom says a defender might have the upper hand against a former club as he knows the opposing attackers well. That does not really apply in Gvardiol’s case, however, as so much of the exciting current Leipzig attack – Xavi, Openda and Benjamin Šeško – joined when the Croatia international left this summer.
The defence of Die Roten Bullen has stayed largely intact from last season, however, meaning there might be a few defenders around able to give their new attacking team-mates a tip or two on how to get one over Gvardiol.
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