Sheriff did indeed hold on to that 2-0 lead against Shakhtar to record their first-ever Champions League group stage win. Well done! And Besiktas gave Dortmund a scare with a late goal but Bellingham’s and Haaland’s strikes were enough to give the German side a 2-1 win.
Guardiola has just spoken and explained that both Laporte and Stones picked up injuries on international duty and they’re still trying to overcome them. “The guys who played in the last three games are so important to us,” he said, “but everyone has to start being part of the group for this tough, tough and busy, busy schedule.”
And here’s what he had to say about Leipzig: “They are so intense, with so many transitions. They are so aggressive the way they play. Hopefully we can play good with the ball and win the game. Leipzig are always very good. They have a strong philosophy – young players, dynamic, physical, strong, playing narrow in all senses.”
Leipzig’s players took a brisk stroll through what appears to be a Redrow housing estate and a golf course this afternoon.
Leipzig have made three changes to the side that were walloped 4-1 by Bayern Munich. Jesse Marsch brings in Adams, Forsberg and Klostermann to replace Kampl, Simakan and Szoboszlai. They’ll likely line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Adams and Laimer sitting deep and trying to stop City creating pretty triangles in midfield. City will probably start with some kind of 4-3-3 that may morph into a never-before-seen formation as the game goes on. Who knows with Pep.
In the early Champions League kick-offs, Dortmund are leading Besiktas 2-0 with 16 minutes remaining. And in the battle of the Shs, Moldova’s Champions League debutants, Sheriff, are beating Shakhtar 2-0. What a win that would be if they can see it out. Oh, and Dortmund have just brought on 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko. He was born in November 2004. That’s ridiculous.
Tonight’s match is Pep Guardiola’s 300th as Manchester City manager. He’s won 218 of them. Not a bad record. He hasn’t dressed up for the occasion, mind.
Manchester City: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias (C), Ake, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Grealish, Torres, Mahrez. Subs: Carson, Slicker, Walker, Sterling, Gundogan, Jesus, Fernandinho, Foden, Palmer, Lavia.
De Bruyne returns for City. He is among four changes from their 1-0 win at Leicester, with Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez and Oleksandr Zinchenko coming in. Neither Laporte nor Stones are on the bench. Phil Foden is back on the subs list, though. So, we’ll see Cancelo v Angelino this evening. Should be interesting. This will also mark Grealish’s first start in the Champions League.
Evening. When the draw for the group stage was made, the feeling among some was that of the English clubs, perhaps it was Manchester City who had landed the toughest assignment. One would expect Club Brugge to prop up Group A, but PSG were finalists in 2020 and Leipzig were semi-finalists that year too. But the departure of manager Julian Nagelsmann, Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer to Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konaté to Liverpool has hit Leipzig hard. They’ve managed just one win and lost three of their opening four Bundesliga matches and were hammered 4-1 last weekend by Bayern. Manager Jesse Marsch’s promotion through the Red Bull stable of clubs hasn’t worked out yet, though he has had to reshape his squad and André Silva, who was prolific at Frankfurt, should prove a threat when he settles in.
So a home win for City should be on the cards tonight. Leipzig have struggled for goals and Pep Guardiola’s side have kept three clean sheets since their 1-0 defeat at Spurs, plundering 11 goals on their way despite not having a proper striker. They’ll also be motivated by the pain of losing to Chelsea in last season’s European Cup final. “We reached the final of the Champions League, so, yeah, it’s a motor [driver],” said Guardiola. Meanwhile, Rodri wants to win it so his family don’t have to tread eggshells around him. “You have three shit days the next days, you cannot even talk to your families and friends,” he revealed. “They are there to support you but your face is not as you want.”
For what it’s worth, I think his family will have a light and breezy Rodri in the house after this particular match. Rúben Dias and Aymeric Laporte have formed a solid defensive partnership (spare a thought for John Stones), Jack Grealish is slowly finding his best form and Bernardo Silva is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance after being given the cold shoulder for large parts of last season. If Leipzig do cause City problems, it will likely come down the left with flying wing-back Angelino, who signed from City on a permanent contract in the summer after a successful loan last season. Kyle Walker beware.