City give away a draw in Leipzig | Sports| The USA Print

RB Leipzig

Guardiola’s sky-blue army marches across the continent once again in search of its second Champions League final. He says that winning it is more difficult every year. Just in case, in Leipzig he returned to his essence: the 4-3-3. The original system. The tool that no one knows how to develop better. A mold that ensures comfort and competitive advantages to its players, spirited in the first half and comfortable in the second against an opponent they dominated but did not win. A Gvuardiol header from a corner punished the most harmonious City that has been seen in recent weeks.


Blaswich, Willi Orban, Lukas Klostermann (Benjamin Henrichs, min. 45), Gvardiol, Marcel Halstenberg (David Raum, min. 88), Xavier Schlager (Amadou Haidara, min. 81), Timo Werner, Forsberg (Nkunku, min. 65 ), Laimer, Dominik Szoboszlai and André Silva (Yussuf Poulsen, min. 82)


M city

Ederson Moraes, Aké, Rúben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Rodrigo, Gündogan, Grealish, Erling Braut Haaland and Walker

goals 0-1 min. 26: Mahrez. 1-1 min. 69: Gvardiol.

Referee Serdar Gözübüyuk

yellow cards Benjamin Henrichs (min. 89)

All the City players enjoyed the new tactical order in this round of 16, suddenly synchronized in a framework of space and task distribution that gave them the kind of advantages that are not found in the Premier. Because? Because in the English championship Guardiola has made an effort to put together a welcoming structure for Kevin de Bruyne —his most unbalancing individuality and Haaland’s most complicit assistant— at the cost of imposing restrictions on the mobility of Bernardo Silva and Gündogan. With the 4-3-3, and with De Bruyne injured at home, the most brilliant interior pairing in the English championship recovered all the elasticity of movements that alone raises the general level. The coming and going of these two virtuosos along the lanes of the eight and the ten He streamlined circulation in such a way that Leipzig became a spectator, always slow, always anticipated, always reactive and distorted in the face of City’s collective movements. When from time to time the local team recovered the ball, they could not find Werner, their striker, distracted in pursuits that took him away from his area.

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The most striking consequence of the new order was the release of Haaland. Prisoner in the cages of the Premier, the Norwegian discovered in Germany many more opportunities to stand out. If his colleagues did not find it, it was because they have been stagnant for so long, subject to the de Bruyne squarethat the wingers, Grealish and Mahrez, were slow to realize the possibilities that presented themselves.

Leipzig began the night assuming their sparring status. She advanced lines to the midfield and was repositioning behind making a waste of energy in the tilts. She lasted 20 minutes and began to unravel. In an attempt to make the second pass, Schlager turned the ball over to Grealish. The Englishman passed Gundogan and the German, who felt Gvardiol’s pressure, stuck his heel in and threw the pipe. Enabled, Mahrez shot Blaswich like someone who takes a penalty.

City’s enemy was never Leipzig. It was the comfort that he perceived during that first half of the game. That feeling of pleasure passing the ball from foot to foot, always with space and time to have fun. The call of rest must plunge visitors into a sort of spa. At times, the Champions League must seem like a walk to them. Pure toxic illusion in the minds of the footballers, who returned to the relaxed field. City slowed down, the pressure eased, and Leipzig didn’t miss it.

Henrichs had the first opportunity, after Aké arrived late at the end on a quickly connected play by Leipzig. The Dutch defender was, along with Akanji, the weak point of a softened City in its defensive axis. Vulnerable to counterattacks and set pieces, such as the corner kick that Gvardiol headed in to score 1-1.

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Haaland and Gvardiol

Leipzig’s goal shook the score and the conscience of the City players, scrambled by the evidence of the wasted game. Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez and Grealish tried to get on the moving train from which they had just gotten off. There is nothing more complicated in football that reverses an inertia of emotional relaxation. Once the aggressiveness evaporates in the search for pleasure, the desire to fight, to move with determination, is forced and difficult to integrate into technical actions. It was enough for City to press a little, however, to threaten Blaswich again. Between Gündogan, who forced the goalkeeper to deflect the shot, and Haaland, who missed the definition by a span after overflowing Gvuardiol. The Croatian central defender, famous like few others for his multiple powers, lost two meters in two seconds against the Norwegian giant, who controlled his speed and was close to making it 1-2.

City was about to beat Leipzig. It was not so. Guardiola did not make a single change. Perhaps, in an attempt to convey a sense of collective responsibility for what happened. The good and bad. When the referee whistled the final he gathered the players on the field and gave the impression of letting them out. “We need to look for Haaland more,” he said afterwards. translated: the nine moves well; if he did not receive the ball it was because of Mahrez, Grealish, Silva and Gündogan.

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