Manchester City, the lost compass

London (AFP) – After a great start to the season, Manchester City lost two battles in quick succession in England and must negotiate a third consecutive away match on Wednesday (9:00 p.m.) in the Champions League in Leipzig, where the European champion is awaited firmly.

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The Citizens spend more time on the road or in the air than in training at the moment, and this coincidence of the calendar coincides with road trips, sportingly speaking, quite surprising given the usual domination without sharing.

“With the recovery time, at the moment it’s 5-10 minutes of training, that’s all. We can’t train,” said coach Pep Guardiola before the Cup’s elimination. League at Newcastle, followed by a defeat on Saturday at Wolverhampton.

For defender Nathan Aké, one of the most used Mancunians, the program boils down to “just recovery, eat well, sleep well and concentrate on the next match”.

The English and European champions are engaged in a cycle of four away matches in a row, with the European clash in Leipzig on Wednesday and the summit of English football against Arsenal on Sunday at the Emirates.

Silva and Stones on the plane

On Tuesday, their trip to Germany was also delayed due to feared gusts of wind in the Manchester region.

On the pitch, the Citizens were also shaken last week by conceding two defeats in a row, a first since January 2023 (defeat in the League Cup against Southampton then in the Premier League against Manchester United).

The players “hate the defeat so much” that it hurts, but “we will not lose our enthusiasm”, promised defender Ruben Dias on Tuesday at a press conference.

Manchester City attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva during the Premier League match against West Ham in London, September 16, 2023 © Ian Kington / IKIMAGES/AFP/Archives

In Leipzig, the Portuguese international and his teammates will seek to stop this negative mini-series and extend their successful debut in the Champions League, two weeks after the inaugural victory against Red Star Belgrade (3-1).

They will be able to count on Rodri, currently suspended in the league, and Julian Alvarez, the two scorers against the Serbs. They are also hoping for a big night for Erling Haaland, former Dortmund goalkeeper, who has already scored nine goals this season.

Bernardo Silva and John Stones, returning from injury, will also be on the trip to Germany, Pep Guardiola confirmed on Tuesday, without knowing if they will be fit to play.

“From ancient history”

There, a Leipzig team in great shape awaits them. Winner of Young Boys (3-1) at the start of C1, the eastern club has been undefeated since August 19 and has just held off Bayern Munich (2-2) on Saturday in the Bundesliga after leading by two goals.

Marco Rose no longer wants to hear about the 7-0 conceded in the round of 16 second leg at Manchester City, “it’s ancient history”. The coach, however, still has in mind the first leg (1-1), where “we played well at home”, with a goal from Josko Gvardiol, recruited in the meantime by the English.

Leipzig coach Marco Rose gives instructions to his players during training before the home match against Manchester City, October 3, 2023
Leipzig coach Marco Rose gives instructions to his players during training before the home match against Manchester City, October 3, 2023 © Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“You need a bit of luck, and also a good performance, to beat teams like City. We are convinced that we can win at home with the fans behind us,” said the German technician on Tuesday.

The RB is, however, deprived of several basic players such as its captain Willi Orban and its striker Dani Olmo, very prominent this season. Against Bayern, the central defense was occupied by the young French Mohamed Simakan (23 years old) and Castello Lukeba (20 years old).

“We know how difficult they can be to play. Always young, full of energy, very attacking. We don’t expect anything other than a difficult match,” commented Ruben Dias.

Facing him, Xavi Simons, Loïs Openda, Yussuf Poulsen or Timo Werner, just back from injury, will do everything to send the English back to their island with another defeat in their bags.

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