Illustration photo – Premier League match Manchester City – Tottenham. Riyad Mahriz (left) is pictured in Manchester on January 19, 2023.
Prague – The last two opening matches of the Champions League round of 16 will take place on Wednesday. Premier League favorites Manchester City will be in Leipzig looking to make amends for the weekend's Premier League draw in Nottingham. At the same time, the conqueror Pilsen from the Inter Milan group will welcome Porto and the match will be, among other things, a duel between former teammates and now coaches Simone Inzaghi and Sérgio Conceicao. In addition, the Portuguese coach will challenge his former club.
Photo gallery: Football Champions League 2022/23
Manchester City believe they will finally break the wait for a Champions League triumph this year. Coach Josep Guardiola's men are also fighting for the winning trophy in the English league, in which they unexpectedly only drew 1:1 in Nottingham on Saturday and fell to second place in the table. The English champion has only won at Arsenal in the last five away matches.
City met Leipzig in the Champions League group the year before. While they won 6:3 at home, they lost 1:2 away. The reigning English champions in UEFA competitions have lost only one of their last 17 matches against German teams.
“Huge respect for what Leipzig has been able to do recently in the German league and on the European stage. The year before last we suffered in both games, we know how good Leipzig is especially at home. They have a young team with a clear game philosophy – they practice physically demanding soccer from the goal line to the limelight, they have a very good coach,” said Guardiola, whose men faced fellow German team Dortmund in the group, winning at home and drawing with them away.
While the English champions will be aiming for a sixth consecutive Champions League quarter-final, Leipzig have only made it past the last eight in 2019/20. However, the fifth Bundesliga team is currently in very good form and has lost only one of the last 20 competitive matches. In addition, Leipzig won all three home matches against English opponents.
“Manchester City has a lot of world-class players in its squad. Leipzig have already played against them, and I also played against them as coach of Mönchengladbach (in 2021 ), so we know the strength we are up against. We are looking forward to this challenge and we believe we can surprise a lot of people,” said Leipzig coach Marco Rose.
Inter Milan coach Inzaghi and Porta Conceicao coach have played together for Lazio Rome in the past, now they face each other. The second team of the Italian league, which defeated Pilsen twice in the group, is a slight favorite to progress. Milan will be aiming for their first appearance in the quarter-finals since 2011.
“I will see Sergio with great pleasure, he was an excellent team-mate, we achieved many victories together. Now he is a great coach, Porto is playing great football under him. We know that Porto have done well against Italian opponents recently, but I believe that we will change,” said Inzaghi.
Currently, the second team of the Portuguese league has succeeded twice in a row in the round of 16 of the Champions League and eliminated the Italian opponent (AS Rome and Juventus Turin) both times. At the same time, Porto lost only one of the last seven duels against teams from Serie A. The reigning Portuguese champion has a long unbeaten streak, he has not found a winner in 22 competitive matches. He won the last 10 duels.
Conceicao will challenge not only his former teammate Inzaghi, but also his former club, for whom he played 65 competitive games between 2001 and 2003. “Facing a former club is always special, but not as special as leading Porto. When the match starts, I will forget where I was before. I will only focus on how to best manage the match,” Conceicao noted.
Both games kick off on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Rematches are scheduled for March 14.
Interesting things before Wednesday's opening matches of the Champions League round of 16:
Inter Milan – FC Porto
Kick-off: Wednesday 22 February, 21:00.
Referee: Jovanovič – Stojkovič, Mihajlovič (all Serbian) – Dankert (video , Germany)
Balance: 4 2-1-1 6:4.
– the teams met 4 times in 2005 and Inter lost only match
– Inter won both home matches against Porto
– Inter are unbeaten in 10 home matches against Portuguese opponents in UEFA competitions (9 wins)
– Porto have lost only one of their last 7 cup matches against Italian teams
– Porto are winless in their last 5 duels on Italian soil
– Inter will be aiming for their first Champions League quarter-final since 2011 , eliminated in 5 of the last 7 round of 16
– Porto succeeded in the last 2 round of 16 of the Champions League (eliminating the Italian club both times) and advanced to the quarter-finals in 2 of the last 4 seasons
– Inter finished second in the group with 2 losses out of 6 matches, beating Pilsen twice
– Porto lost the first 2 group matches, but then won 4 times in a row
– Inter lost only one of the last 13 competitive matches
– Inter lost only one of the last 12 home duels
– Porto have not lost 22 times in a row since October 21st and have won their last 10 duels
– Porto have not lost 15 times in a row away from home since September 7th and have not conceded in 6 of their last 7 matches there
– both teams are 2nd in their domestic leagues
– coaches S. Inzaghi (Inter) and Conceicao (Porto) were teammates at Lazio Rome
– Conceicao played for Inter between 2001 and 2003
RB Leipzig – Manchester City
Kick-off: Wednesday, February 22, 21:00.
Referee: Gözübüyük – Zeinstra, Balder – Van Boekel (video, all Dutch).
Balance: 2 1-0-1 7:5.
– the teams have only met twice in UEFA competitions the year before last in the Champions League group, first City won 6:3, Leipzig won 2:1 in the second leg
– Leipzig have lost 3 of their last 4 matches against English opponents
– Leipzig have won all 3 home matches against English teams
– City have lost just one of their last 17 matches against German teams in UEFA competitions
– City played another German club Dortmund at home in the group they won 2:1 and drew 0:0 away from home
– Leipzig will play in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the third time in the last 4 seasons, they only made it past the round of 16 in the 2019/20 season
– City will aim for a sixth consecutive Champions League quarter-final stage
– Leipzig lost their opening 2 group games but then won 4 times in a row
– City are unbeaten in 6 group games (of which 4 victory)
– Leipzig have lost just one of their last 20 competitive games
– City have lost just one of their last 7 competitive games, but only drew in the English league at Nottingham at the weekend
– City have won only one of their last 5 away competitive matches
– Leipzig are fifth in the German league table, City are 2nd in the Premier League
– Mahriz (City) today sla knows 32nd birthday