Reigning European champions Manchester City breezed past RB Leipzig in Saxony with a comfortable 3-1 win. With the Red Bull Arena in full voice prior to kick-off, there were hopes that the electric atmosphere would resonate with Marco Rose’s side. However, quite quickly it became apparent that the first half would be nothing more than a practice match for Manchester City. Nevertheless, they would only take a 1-0 lead into the break, courtesy of Phil Foden’s half-volley that bounced past Janis Blaswich after 25 minutes.
However, Leipzig would come out a new side after the interval. Just two minutes into the second half Loïs Openda would race through on goal and calmly convert past Ederson to level the tie. Nonetheless, while Leipzig would frustrate City for the majority of the second half, two late goals from Julián Álvarez and Jérémy Doku would seal the game for the European champions. For Leipzig, it is now about focussing on their remaining games to ensure they qualify for the knockout stages.
RB Leipzig fail to transfer their confidence into Europe
Since Marco Rose was appointed as the head coach of RB Leipzig, no other side in the Bundesliga have taken more points than Die Roten Bullen. Their confident and killer attitude has shone even against the likes of Bayern Munich, but they have been unable to transfer this into Europe.
An embarrassing 7-0 defeat at the Eithad last season resembled a far cry of what Leipzig are capable of, and tonight’s game resembled something fairly similar. While they would only lose 3-1, Leipzig were far from their spectacular best.
From the first whistle, Rose’s side looked to shut up shop and prevent the European champions from storming into an early unassailable lead. With just 28% possession in the first half and just a singular attempt on goal – which was blocked – Leipzig failed to test Ederson’s goal. Loïs Openda would level the tie just after the interval, but the rhythm of the game would fall back into City’s favour. Die Roten Bullen had to be cautious, but they gave themselves no favours.
Nobody can stop Loïs Openda
RB Leipzig have enjoyed a wonderful start to their 2023/24 campaign. While They may slipped up against table toppers Bayer Leverkusen on matchday one, a recent draw against Bayern Munich proved that they have what it takes to fight at the top of the table, as well as help confirm that their DFL-Supercup victory was no fluke.
Nevertheless, at the heart of everything positive that Die Roten Bullen have been able to do this season has been the unstoppable Loïs Openda. With six goal contributions in six Bundesliga outings, Openda was still looking to open up his account in the Champions League.
While he would struggle to impact the game in the first half, he would quickly make Manchester City rue their missed chances with a phenomenal display of strength, speed and composure to level the tie just after the interval. With minimal service, Openda proved why he is so important to this Leipzig side and while they would ultimately fall to defeat, none of the blame can be placed upon their Belgian superstar.
Leipzig have to focus on their remaining games
Being drawn into a group that includes the reigning European champions is potentially the worst possible outcome in the Champions League group stages. However, fortunately for Leipzig, their other two opponents Young Boys and Crvena Zvezda present themselves as far less intimidating opponents.
Having already gone to Switzerland and taken three points away from Young Boys, there will be an expectation for the home leg to produce the same result. As well as this, while Crvena Zvezda proved against Manchester City that they are not to be underestimated, the Leipzig faithful will demand at least a four-point haul from the Serbian champions.
Therefore, if Marco Rose’s side are to progress they have to remain focused in their remaining four games. Stealing at least a point away from Pep Guardiola’s side would have been remarkable, but not expected. It will be a battle to qualify, but they have certainly shown they have the quality and character to do so.
GGFN | Will Shopland