Marco Rose hasn’t been hugged as warmly by a colleague as Pep Guardiola in a long time. The Manchester City coach repeatedly pulled his counterpart close to him after the game and spoke encouraging words into his ear. This may have been little consolation for Rose at first, but his team’s 2-3 defeat at Manchester City clearly annoyed the RB Leipzig coach. It took a while for him to overcome his frustration. “The end result is a defeat in a game in which we played very well. Even if we don’t get anything in return, we take a lot of positive things with us,” said Rose.
That was undoubtedly the best way to assess the previous 90 minutes of the Champions League. From a mathematical point of view, the flawless presentation achieved nothing. Leipzig traveled home with the certainty of finishing the group stage in second place; The qualification for the round of 16 had already been determined. From a psychological point of view, however, it should release strength for the upcoming home game. On Saturday (3:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky) promoted team Heidenheim is coming to Leipzig, “then we want to keep the three points with us,” said sports director Rouven Schröder.
“Leave points unnecessarily”
That didn’t work so well recently in the Bundesliga. RB has lost two of the last three games and is already eleven points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Currently Leipzig would not even qualify for the Champions League in fifth place. You should definitely win against Heidenheim. “We dropped points unnecessarily in the league and we talked about it intensively. We have to look forward and earn the points again,” said goalkeeper Janis Blaswich.
The game in Manchester offered enough clues to be able to go into everyday league life in a positive mood. Rose had prepared his team very well for the opponent, Lois Openda escaped the English defense twice in the first half and gave Leipzig a 2-0 lead. “We scored two nice goals on the counterattack because we knew that City defended well,” said Rose. Coaches and players had enough experience.
Last season there was also a meeting with the English champions, where RB lost 7-0 in Manchester. City’s offensive power is well known. The English also won the first leg in October (3-1). Leipzig had never come as close to a win against Guardiola’s team as they did on Tuesday evening. The fact that it didn’t work out in the end was mainly due to a huge improvement in Manchester’s performance in the second half. “We knew we had pissed them off with that halftime score,” Rose said.
Haaland brought his team back into the game
Erling Haaland was particularly angry because he had little success in the first half. Shortly after the break, the goalscorer made it 1-2 and brought his team back into the game. “If we had kept the zero longer, it would have done us good,” said Rose. Now the scenery was different. “We had silenced the stadium before, then it was there again,” said goalkeeper Blaswich.
Driven by his own fans, Phil Foden equalized, and shortly before the end, substitute World Champion Julian Alvarez scored, as in the first leg, to win. In view of the luxury personnel that his counterpart Guardiola has at his disposal (at the same time as Alvarez he brought in the Belgian Jeremy Doku, who was also successful in the first leg), Rose sounded somewhat resigned when he said: “Then comes Doku, then comes Alvarez. Even more power. Even more quality.”
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Leipzig doesn’t have these options, but RB could still have left the field as winners. When the score was 2-2, Fabio Carvalho’s goal was denied due to a narrow offside position. To my surprise, a few centimeters were missing. “We can take away the fact that we can hold our own against top teams. Now we have to improve in the Bundesliga,” said midfielder Nicolas Seiwald.