• Karel L.

A difficult afternoon for City in Germany

Manchester City lost 2-1 against Leipzig in the last match of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Although this scoreline did not matter because we had qualified at the top of the group since the last matchday, it does leave some things to analyze.

The analysis

To tell the truth, long before the match started or even before the line-ups were announced, we knew that the team would rotate, which is quite normal considering the number of matches coming up and the fact that we were already qualified as group winners.

That's why nobody was surprised to see players like Steffen, Stones, Ake, or Zinchenko starting.

That said, the forward and midfield gave an impression of solidity that was not shown in the match, with Grealish as a false 9, Mahrez and Foden on the wings, and De Bruyne and Gundogan in midfield.

Leipzig on the other hand neither had much at stake, as the most they could hope for was to qualify for the UEFA Europa League, which was very easy because any score that favored PSG would automatically put them in.

Now, going into the match something that generates a lot of expectation in me is that I think the duo of Grealish and Foden seems to have a lot of potential as long as they both learn to understand each other better.

Gundogan for his part brings a lot of recovery in midfield, which helps Kevin to have more freedom and also helps Fernandinho to feel more secure at the back in high-speed plays.

It is also worth noting that the game was extremely boring from the start and I think that is partly due to the fact that, as I mentioned, neither team had much to lose.

Despite this, I have to say that it is frustrating to see games like this, where it seems that no one wants to play, and while I understand that there were many absences including Cancelo and Bernardo, I think we could have done much better.

Another important issue during some points of the game is that our two midfielders were constantly appearing in the box, which is achieved thanks to that which I have highlighted several games ago, which is the ability of our fullbacks to occupy positions in the center of the field to close the spaces that are left there.

Now, just as I always highlight when a player does a wonderful job, I think it is also necessary to talk about when they are not focused or do not perform well on the field, but I hope none of this is confused with hate, as it is only an analysis of the way they played during this specific match.

I clarify this because in the defense everything was very confusing at times, it seemed as if they had not played a single game together, each and everyone was uncoordinated for many moments.

In fact, Walker and Fernandinho on many occasions had to appear as central defenders to prevent any Leipzig player to appear alone, which obviously created a space and an opportunity in that position that they left free to go to cover a teammate's position.

Throughout the previous games, I have highlighted the importance of Sterling because when the full-backs go forward he understands very well that his role becomes defensive, something that didn't happen much with Mahrez and Foden, although the full-backs didn't make a great effort to get forward either.

Having said that, I want to make it clear that not everything was bad, for example, Kevin is slowly returning to the level we know him, today he had a great game, he constantly asked for the ball, moved all over the pitch, helped in the recovery of the ball, etc.

For the second half, it seemed that Sterling gave a bit of freshness to the left-wing, but it didn't last long either as he soon rotated positions with Jack and completely disappeared from the game.

This last point is not to say that it was his fault, to tell the truth, the Leipzig defense did a great job as they were compact, closed spaces in such a way that it was almost impossible for the midfielders to have any contact with the false 9, whoever he was.

Finally, I would like to highlight two important points from what I saw during this match.

The first one is that during the game I think there was little desire from the team to play, which is understandable, I insist, there are a lot of games ahead and this one really did not contribute anything, but I think that if they did not want to play, Guardiola could have used players from CITY EDS who are eager to have a chance in the Champions League.

The second thing is that thanks to this kind of games is that we realize how necessary Ruben has become for the defense and Rodri for the midfield, both guys are leaders in their position and great recoverers, so even if you have other world-class players like Stones or Fernandinho for those positions, the difference is still noticeable.

Key moments

This match was marked by 3 key moments that determined the course of the game.

- 38' Steffen's save: This moment was important because if it wasn't for the

goalkeeper, we could have gone to the half-time break down by 2 goals (or even more).

- - 71' Leipzig's second goal: I think this moment was decisive because at that moment City seemed to be dominating the ball, which sooner or later was going to mean the equalizer, so, having a second goal ahead gave them a lot of security.

- 82' Walker sent off: This is very important, not only for the end of this match but also because we will not be able to count on Walker for the next match.

Players of the Match

To tell you the truth, this was a very complicated game so it would seem impossible to name the men of the match, but there are two in particular that I think we should recognize for their performance.

The first is Steffen, the American goalkeeper is very good and today he saved us from losing by a wide margin. In addition, he usually takes every chance he gets, which is always appreciated.

The second is De Bruyne, although he has had a complicated year due to injuries and his recent COVID infection, the Belgian is getting closer and closer to the level we have known all these years.

Post-match reactions

· Pep congratulated Leipzig on the victory. “We played better in the second half, more aggressive, played to win the game and we lost it so congrats to Leipzig.” [via @ManCity]

· In addition, the Spaniard also highlighted the great work of the team in this group stage. "We made an incredible #UCL group stage, we qualified with a game left in a tough group. More than satisfied with the performance in every game. In February [for the last-16], hopefully we can arrive in the best condition possible.” [via @ManCity]

Who's next?

Manchester City's next game is on Saturday against Wolves.