RB Leipzig 1-1 against Manchester City in the Champions League

SMarco Rose did not want to give an exact choice of words. The dynamic of his half-time speech, on the other hand, is. “It was semi-loud. Started quietly, got a little loud, quieter again – then really loud,” said the RB Leipzig coach. It was apparently just the right volume level, because after a bad first half, Leipzig fought back in the Champions League round of 16 first leg against Manchester City 1-1.

The feeling for the second leg on March 14 should therefore be excellent, especially since a Leipzig victory would have been anything but undeserved. “We have a draw now. When you know you’re going to City, you’d rather have it 3-0 to feel better,” Rose said.

What is perhaps more valuable than the result is the impression left by its players. They allowed themselves to be shown over long distances for half-time and were rightly behind when Riyad Mahrez scored. “Of course, 26 percent possession of the ball at the break is abysmal,” emphasized the coach and finally praised: “But we showed a good reaction. The second half was really good.”

Forsberg: “Something was wrong”

The highlight of the reaction was Josko Gvardiol’s equalization after a corner. In terms of chances, Benjamin Henrichs could have scored. “We showed our true colors,” said playmaker Emil Forsberg. “It was not enough, we knew that ourselves. Then we put more pressure on it, had more intensity and control.” In two weeks it must “go straight in that direction”.

Forsberg confirmed that it got loud in the dressing room at half-time, but not hectic. The Swedish international was unable to say whether collecting during the break was the reason for the turnaround. “You always get the question, but it’s hard to explain. Something was wrong. Then you are woken up during the break, go out, are more relaxed, have more ball security. Maybe you feel like you have nothing to lose,” said the 31-year-old.

City manager Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, stunned in this round of 16 first leg by not using any of his substitutes. “I have the opportunity to come on as a substitute, but I don’t have to do it,” the Spaniard explained afterwards, adding jokingly: “Maybe I’ll go crazy in the second game and play with nine strikers.” He had that feeling in Wednesday’s game , “I need exactly these players”.

The Manchester professionals let up considerably in the second half. But expensive stars like Phil Foden, Julián Álvarez and Kalvin Phillips waited in vain for a sign from Guardiola and were no longer used. “Our coach has a reputation for making a few changes rather than too many when the game is tight. I think he didn’t want to influence the flow of the game again in the last 15, 20 minutes,” said German City captain Ilkay Gündogan, who himself had been on the pitch for the full distance: “So we had to accept that .”

Manchester’s Etihad Stadium is back to square one in two weeks. In September 2021, RB offered a spectacular 3: 6 in Leipzig’s only guest appearance with the English champions – but had no chance. Christopher Nkunku scored three goals there. The Frenchman should be physically ready for the second leg to play from the start. In the first leg on Wednesday it was only enough for a short appearance after a long injury break.


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