Outright favourites Manchester City are about to compete in the Champions League knockout stage for the tenth successive season and Pep Guardiola’s charges face a tricky test in Germany this evening in the form of a Round of 16 first-leg clash with RB Leipzig.
City lost on their last visit to the Red Bull Arena in a UCL Group Stage dead-rubber in December 2021, and their patchy domestic form suggests they might find the Bundesliga outfit awkward customers to deal with again later on.
Below, you can immerse yourself in my stats pack for this evening’s contest which is jam-packed with all the info you need to construct quality bet builders for the game. Use the statistical treasure trove alongside my Stats Pack Guide to optimise your results.
RB Leipzig’s first-choice keeper Peter Gulasci is a long-term absentee and he is joined in the treatment room by Dani Olmo and Abdou Diallo at present. Key duo Konrad Laimer and Christopher Nkunku should be fit enough to start having return to action at the weekend.
Josko Gvardiol, who is a transfer target for many Premier League clubs, will hope to impress at centre-half, while former Chelsea man Timo Werner will be determined to do some damage further up the pitch. Head Coach Marco Rose tends to favour a narrow 4-2-2-2 set-up.
A hamstring injury is keeping John Stones out of contention for City, while Kevin de Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte, who are both ill, have been left back in Manchester. Pep Guardiola has been playing around from a tactical perspective in recent weeks, and City could be deployed in any number of different formations in Leipzig.
Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez, Manuel Akanji and Rico Lewis were all named on the bench against Nottingham Forest at the weekend and all four players will be pushing for a recall this evening.
RB Leipzig are in fifth spot in the Bundesliga, though they are just four points off top spot in what is a congested top half in Germany. Die Roten Bullen have lost only three of their last 23 fixtures in all competitions since Marco Rose’s appointment back in September.
Leipzig have been posting some impressive figures at both ends of the pitch in the Bundesliga and their output in the Champions League has been pretty similar. Leipzig hit 12.8 shots and 4.8 attempts per game on average in the competition’s group stage, and picked up just five bookings in six fixtures. They finished second in Group F behind Real Madrid, but managed to beat Los Blancos 3-2 when the teams met in Germany.
From a statistical perspective, Manchester City have been clocking title-standard numbers across most metrics, though results for the defending champions in the Premier League have been up and down. City dropped more points at Forest at the weekend, though their xG in Nottingham (2.5 to 1.1) suggests they were unfortunate.
In the Champions League, City’s 18.2 shots per game was bested by Real Madrid (19) only in the group stage, while Pep Guardiola’s troops conceded fewer attempts on average than anyone else (6.2). City coasted to top spot in Group G ahead of Dortmund, Sevilla and Copenhagen. Borussia Dortmund held the Manchester giants to a 0-0 draw on matchday five in Germany, however.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Christopher Nkunku’s return to fold is a major boost for RB Leipzig, and alongside being one of their most threatening players in the Bundesliga, the Chelsea-bound Frenchman hit 2.5 shots per 90 in the Champions League group phase, 1.3 of which hit the target on average.
The 25-year-old represents excellent value at 5/6 to lodge 1+ shots on target this evening, while Dominik Szoboszlai could also be worth a look at the same price. The Hungarian is never shy about letting loose from just about any distance and the 22-year-old has hit the target with an attempt in 11 of his last 15 runouts for Die Roten Bullen in all competitions.
Erling Haaland dominates both shot metrics for City domestically, while the Norwegian has also been hitting an unmatched 5.4 attempts and 2.9 efforts on target per 90 in the Champions League. The 22-year-old is a reliable performer in the markets and Haaland can be backed at a reasonable 8/11 to notch 2+ shots on target later on.
Elsewhere, Jack Grealish could be an alternative to consider at even money to register at least one accurate attempt against Die Roten Bullen. The winger doesn’t feature prominently in City’s list of most-potent shooters in the Premier League, however, only Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne have been lodging more shots per 90 in the Champions League than Grealish (2.9).
Player Goals and Assists
Despite a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Christopher Nkunku is still firmly in the running to win Bundesliga’s golden boot this term and the French attacker is also RB Leipzig’s joint-leading scorer in the Champions League with three goals alongside Andre Silva.
When Leipzig and City met in the tournament’s group stage in the 2021/22 campaign, Nkunku famously netted an incredible hattrick at The Etihad Stadium and with his match-turning powers well-established, the 25-year-old is great value at 13/10 to either score or assist this evening.
There are no prizes for guessing who tops the charts in the Champions League for City, and Erling Haaland’s five goals in the competition so far is bested by just two other players (Mbappe and Salah).
Haaland developed a real affinity for scoring against Leipzig during his prolific spell with Borussia Dortmund in Germany. The Norwegian superstar scored six times against Die Roten Bullen and at 10/11 to register anytime this evening, the 22-year-old is a bet-building must today.
Among some of the best alternatives sits Riyad Mahrez at 11/10 to either score or assist. The Algerian has been unplayable domestically in recent weeks and he has also collected three goal contributions in five Champions League starts this term.
RB Leipzig have been averaging 57% possession per game in the Bundesliga this season and a slightly-lower 54.3% per fixture in the Champions League, while they controlled 44.4% and 49.6% of the ball in two meetings with City last term.
Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol has been starting most moves from the back for Leipzig in Germany and the 21-year-old is also the metric leader for average passes played per game in Europe (84.8). There is quite a drop off to RB’s next-best performer in the Champions League (Willy Orban – 69.3), so it might be savvy to make Gvardiol your pick here at 8/15 in the 70+ passes market.
For City, the story is pretty similar. Rodri and Ruben Dias, who have been among the team’s distribution dons in the Premier League, rank one and two for average passes played per game in the Champions League with 92.8 and 91.8 apiece.
I expect both of those vital cogs to see plenty of the ball again at the Red Bull Arena, though you have to move up to the 90+ passes market to find value for both. Rodri is 10/11 there, while Dias comes in at 5/6.
RB Leipzig Cards
Konrad Laimer could return to the Leipzig engine room this evening and the Austrian has been a veritable foul machine in the Bundesliga this term, committing 2.21 of them per 90 in the German top tier. Laimer has also been good for one foul per game in the Champions League, though I like him a 4/9 to commit two or more this evening against City’s possession-hungry midfield.
David Raum meanwhile, is available at 8/15 to give away just one foul at the Red Bull Arena. The fullback averages 1.21 and 0.8 fouls per game in the Bundesliga and Champions League respectively, and the 24-year-old is likely to oppose the fleet-footed Riyad Mahrez later.
In the opposite side, Mohamed Simakan’s mettle should be just as tested by Jack Grealish. The 22-year-old has averaged one foul per game domestically and on the continent this term and Simakan is 4/11 to maintain his average today.
Ilkay Gundogan is a key linkman in City’s midfield and back in his homeland, the German schemer’s skirmishes with Konrad Laimer should draw interest from referee Serdar Gözübüyük.
On both flanks, where Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez offer menace and penetration, I expect the foul count to be high. Grealish has been fouled 2.1 times per 90 in the Champions League this season, while Mahrez has been halted in his tracks 1.5 times (p/90) in European fixtures for City.
Match-Ups to watch
Konrad Laimer vs Ilkay Gundogan
David Raum vs Riyad Mahrez
Mohamed Simakan vs Jack Grealish
Manchester City Cards
RB Leipzig have pace to burn on the counter-attack, so several of City’s more defence-minded players could have some uncomfortable scenarios to navigate this evening. Spanish destroyer Rodri has been committing 1.43 and 1.6 fouls per 90 in the EPL and UCL in 2022/23, and the 26-year-old could be a decent addition to your docket at 4/9 to give away two or more fouls against a fast-breaking Leipzig outfit.
If City do start with a central-defensive trio, Manuel Akanji could be exposed at times to the left of that unit. The Swiss international, who has committed 0.6 fouls per 90, has already seen yellow in the Champions League this season and the 27-year-old is priced at 4/1 to be shown a card or 8/13 to post 1+ fouls this evening.
At 8/15 to commit one or more fouls, Ruben Dias is another City defender worth your consideration. Dias has been executing one foul per 90 in the UCL and he should play with extra zest this evening when marking his compatriot, Andre Silva.
Christopher Nkunku is undoubtedly RB Leipzig’s biggest danger man and his movement between City’s defensive lines should put him on a collision course with cynical Spaniard, Rodri.
Dominik Szoboszlai, who has been fouled 1.1 times per 90 in the Champions League this season, wields a combination of intelligence and technique that should trouble City’s Ajanji, while Andre Silva – who has been drawing a huge 2.41 fouls per 90 in the Bundesliga – will be out to ruffle fellow Portuguese international Ruben Dias’s feathers later on.
Match-Ups to watch
Rodri vs Christopher Nkunku
Manuel Akanji vs Dominik Szoboszlai
Ruben Dias vs Andre Silva
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
The bet builder markets always seem a little biased whenever Man City are lining up, but there’s still some value to be found. Here’s a few selections that caught my eye from the stats above.
RB Leipzig vs Man City
Domestically, Leipzig have been picking up an average of 1.81 cards per game
including reds and again it’s a more prominent factor in front of their home fans.
They’ve received an average of 2.1 on home soil and have had at least 1 card in 8/10 in the league here.
City draw 2.38 cards per game in the Premier League with 92% of their opponents receiving at least 1 card.
In the group stages, all their away games saw the opponents receive at least 1 card.
City are a beast for corners, they average 6.54 per game and have managed 5 or more in 79% of their PL matches this season.
Their Champions League games followed similarly, 6.33 on average and in fact a higher 83% strike rate for 5 or more.
Domestically, Leipzig actually concede more corners at home than they do when playing away. They concede 4.20 on average.
It’s been the same in the Champions League, they ship more at home (4.67) than they do away (3.33).
Rodri attempts 1.70 shots p/90, with 0.45 of them making it on target.
That’s down to the position of his shots, and he tempts to take a pop from outside the box.
That’s not the only position he can get in for a shot, as he can always be a danger man for set pieces.
As I mentioned above, Man City are expected to get their fair share of corners.
With the quality that City have at their disposal, it would be no surprise to see Leipzig make a number of fouls to break up the play.
Any number of Leipzig players are capable of falling afoul of the referee this evening, and Marcel Halstenberg stands out as one such player who presents solid value for a foul this evening.
The left back is averaging 1.01 fouls P/90 in the Bundesliga, and given his tendency to thrust into tackles (2.39 P/90), there’s every chance that he trips up his man again tonight.
He’ll be up against Riyad Mahrez, and the Algerian will certainly provide a threat as he looks to drive both inside and outside. The City man is fouled 1.98 times P/90, and his 3.28 dribbles P/90 suggests that he’ll look to target Leipzig’s left back consistently.
Mahrez is of course predominantly left footed, and cutting onto his stronger foot, and Halstenberg’s weaker side, could well spell trouble for the german. The added difficulty comes from the fact that Mahrez is absolutely willing to drive down the line. He’s unpredictable, and Halstenberg will need to be at his best to stop him.