Manchester City dominated, controlled and outclassed RB Leipzig as they knocked out the German outfit with a 7-0 demolition and an 8-1 win on aggregate. Whilst Leipzig may look at unfortunate refereeing decisions to explain their disappointing performance, ultimately the gulf in quality was the main factor.
Erling Haaland would score twice in less than 60 seconds to calm any nerves at the Etihad. However, the nerves would never return, as he would score five on the night within the space of 35 minutes, whilst İlkay Gündoğan would add one in between. Just before the final whistle, Kevin De Bruyne would fire one in past the unfortunate Janis Blaswich. Despite his best efforts on the night, he could not prevent Leipzig from recording the largest defeat in the club’s history.
When RB Leipzig were promoted to the Bundesliga in 2016 all the eyes were on Die Roten Bullen. Would they crumble, or would they look to upset the pecking order at the top of the Bundesliga table? By Christmas Leipzig were at the top of the Bundesliga table, and despite succumbing to Bayern Munich they would qualify for the Champions League. The ambition was clear to see. RB Leipzig would soon be aiming to challenge for Europe’s greatest prize; the Champions League. In the 2019/20 campaign, they would reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, and with young players at the forefront of this achievement, they would have been expected to continue their development.
However, they have failed to advance past the Round of 16 since and this game has highlighted their lack of progress as a club. Manchester City controlled and dominated Marco Rose’s men from the first whistle and the gulf in quality at times was frightening. They have a long way to prove they are worthy of another Champions League semi-final, let alone winning the competition.
Christopher Nkunku has missed a significant portion of Leipzig’s season through injury and tonight’s game against Manchester City was no different. This time it was a hamstring injury that ruled out Leipzig’s top goalscorer. With Andre Silva placed on the bench, it was up to Timo Werner to lead the line for Die Roten Bullen. While opportunities were few and far between for Leipzig’s all-time top scorer, he failed to make the impact we have come to expect from Nkunku. The quality he possesses with the ball at his feet – or even off the ball – means Leipzig can threaten any backline. However, without him, their attack looked nullified with ease.
While in the Bundesliga this may not prove to be an issue, in the Champions League the disparity in quality will prevent Leipzig from achieving their ambitions. Whilst the arrival of Benjamin Šeško will offer competition to Werner, he is not proven at the highest level. Leipzig need to assess whether they value generating money over domestic and continental success.
Whilst an exit from the Champions League in such an embarrassing fashion could look disastrous for Die Roten Bullen, it may be a blessing in disguise. They have fallen off the pace in the Bundesliga title race and the fight for European qualification is on. They were outclassed by Manchester City and realistically their chances of winning the competition had they progressed would still have been slim. However, what is most vital for Leipzig is that they continue qualifying for the Champions League.
The exposure and financial benefit qualification to the Champions League offers to Leipzig is too lucrative to turn down. They are currently joint on 45 points with Union berlin and Freiburg and both of these sides will look to fight until the final day to overtake Marco Rose’s men. Now they have the added advantage of being able to fully focus on the Bundesliga, while the other two sides remain in European competition. A trip to VfL Bochum before the international break could be an ideal way to get back on track for Leipzig.
GGFN | Will Shopland