31/03 6:30 PM
01/04 1:30 PM
01/04 1:30 PM
01/04 1:30 PM
01/04 1:30 PM
01/04 1:30 PM
01/04 4:30 PM
02/04 1:30 PM
02/04 3:30 PM
Will RB Leipzig be celebrating against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last 16? - © Imago
Will RB Leipzig be celebrating against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last 16? - © Imago

5 reasons RB Leipzig will beat Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last 16


Christopher Nkunku may be missing attack, but RB Leipzig have all the necessary ingredients to get the better of Manchester City in their UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg...

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

1) No Nkunku, no problem

Leipzig had to make do without the 2021/22 Bundesliga Player of the Season for their first five league games of 2023 after Nkunku suffered a severe knee injury away on international duty as France prepared for the 2022 World Cup.

Before that, the 25-year-old was in stunning form and looked on course to match, and perhaps even surpass, last season's haul of 35 goals in all competitions. Despite missing a quarter of the campaign, only Werder Bremen's Niclas Füllkrug has more than Nkunku's 12 strikes in Germany's top flight this term, and having slowly made his comeback from injury in recent weeks there was hope that the Frenchman would be fully up to speed in time for the second leg.

Click here for more Bundesliga stats!

Watch: All of Nkunku's goals in 2022

Unfortunately, Nkunku has now pulled up with a hamstring injury and will miss out. But all is not lost for Leipzig, who showed they could cope without their top-scorer before by losing just once in his absence, and will need to do so again now.

Dominik Szoboszlai has been rejuvenated by Rose, while Timo Werner already has 13 goals in all competitions this season and Andre Silva was a January Player of the Month nominee after being involved in three goals in three Bundesliga appearances that month. With or without Nkunku, Leipzig have plenty of firepower, with a league-high 17 different scorers this term proving they are capable of getting on the scoresheet from all over the pitch. And they may just have an ace up their sleeve in the recent resurgence of a familiar face...

2) Forsberg's form

Emil Forsberg has been red-hot in recent weeks, scoring in each of his last four Bundesliga outings. As a result, the Sweden international now has nine goals in all competitions this term and is just three strikes away from beating his own personal best return for a league campaign since joining Leipzig in January 2015.

He's seen it all since and is one of a group of players that have helped take the club from second division promotion all the way up to regular competitors in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and title-hopefuls in Germany's top-flight. It's been a rollercoaster ride and so, to some degree, has been Forsberg's 2022/23 campaign that saw the 31-year-old start just seven of the first 20 Bundesliga matchdays.

Since Matchday 21, however, Forsberg has been immense, with his latest strike against Borussia Mönchengladbach extending his rich vein of form. Nicknamed Mr. Champions League by the club, only Nkunku (11) has scored more goals in Europe's premier club competition for Leipzig than the Swede (10) and the striker says there is only one thing on Die Roten Bullen minds this week: "Everything is possible in football," he said. "We’ll go to Manchester to win."

3) Gvardiol's towering presence

Gvardiol is another who has been among the goals recently - scoring the equaliser in the first meeting between these two sides before finding the back of the net in the 3-0 win over Gladbach at the weekend. While Gvardiol will be a threat in the opposition's box, it's in his own that he continues to shine brightest.

Bayern Munich and Union Berlin are the only teams to have conceded fewer than Leipzig's 27 Bundesliga goals this season, and Gvardiol - also known as "Little Pep" due to the similarities between his name and that of City coach Pep Guardiola - has heavily contributed to that sturdy backline.

Josko Gvardiol has emerged as one of the brightest defensive talents on the planet since joining Leipzig. - Boris Streubel/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty

It is sometimes easy to forget the Croatia international is still only 21 years of age given his physique, composure and leadership, and all of those traits will play a massive role if Leipzig are to progress. As they were in the first leg, where Gvardiol successfully kept former Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland at bay.

4) Rose's turnaround

By the time Rose was appointed as Leipzig boss at the start of September, the side had already lost four games in all competitions, including a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt and a 4-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk. Since then, however, they have lost just three matches and marched up the Bundesliga table, earning a whopping 41 points since Rose took the reins.

The inconsistency from Domenico Tedesco's tenure has all but vanished and, prior to their 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin on Matchday 20, Leipzig had gone 18 games unbeaten in all competitions. The defence has improved, but it is the forward line that has stood out the most, as they displayed when 13-time European champions Real Madrid were dispatched earlier this term.

Watch: Analysis – Marco Rose’s Leipzig

Under Rose, Leipzig have scored 63 times across 27 fixtures in all competitions, averaging 2.3 goals per game in the process. That number boils down to 13 in six Champions League games - again at 2.2 goals each matchday - while Leipzig are averaging 2.1 points per game in the Bundesliga and have safely progressed to the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup as Rose keeps them competing across all three fronts.

5) An A-list of UCL scalps

Despite being relatively new to continental football, that triumph against Real was just one of several scalps Leipzig have already taken. Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United have all been on the receiving end of Leipzig wins, while they even defeated City 2-1 just over 12 months ago.

Leipzig were victorious over Manchester City just 12 months ago. - Maja Hitij/Getty Images

That performance was particularly impressive, as goals from Szoboszlai and Silva earned the three points for the injury-hit outfit, who not only matched the Premier League side, but outplayed them.

Although Rose was not the man in the dugout at the time, he will be eager for his players to draw on the positive experiences from that encounter - and their strong performance on home soil in the first leg - as they look to inflict more damage on Guardiola's squad.