The first of Adams’s two Leipzig goals famously sent the club into a maiden Champions League semi-final with victory over Atletico Madrid in 2019/20. This time, however, he’s fighting to keep Die Roten Bullen in Europe. Leipzig’s comprehensive 5-0 win at Club Brugge last matchday means they simply need to equal or better the Belgians’ result away at Paris Saint-Germain to wrap up third place and secure UEFA Europa League football for 2022. However, Adams will have to do so without fellow American Jesse Marsch after the coach was dismissed by the club on Sunday in the wake of Friday’s 3-1 defeat at Union Berlin.
Assistant coach Achim Beierlorzer will take charge of the game at the Red Bull Arena. Leipzig will take encouragement from the fact they claimed a 2-2 draw there with PSG and also put three past City in Manchester in the opening group game courtesy of Christopher Nkunku’s hat-trick. The Frenchman has since netted four more times in Europe this season, scoring in four out of five group fixtures. He was also on target against Union and will command special attention from Pep Guardiola and his team.
Last year’s beaten finalists are four points clear of PSG at the top of Group A and therefore guaranteed first place regardless of events on Matchday 6. City returned to the English Premier League summit again at the weekend thanks to a 3-1 win at Watford, with Sterling getting one and Bernardo Silva a brace. Bundesliga-made Ilkay Gündogan started that game but could be in line for a rest on his return to his homeland given the Cityzens’ packed fixture list in December.
Kevin De Bruyne, who learnt his craft at Werder Bremen and then Wolfsburg, was only a substitute on Saturday, suggesting he will be rotated in by Guardiola. Joao Cancelo is likely also to be rested as he is City’s only player a booking away from missing the round of 16 first leg. Mohamed Simakan is the sole Leipzig player walking the disciplinary tightrope for what will hopefully be the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie.
Club Brugge could have been forgiven for harbouring hopes of victory against a Leipzig side low on both numbers and confidence, but the German side were simply a class above at the Jan Breydel Stadium in a romping 5-0 triumph.
The irrepressible Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg both bagged braces on the night while Andre Silva also made the net ripple, but Leipzig’s fate was sealed as Man City and PSG both booked their last-16 spots on the penultimate matchday.
Leipzig have taken just four points from a possible 15 in Group A – with the win at Brugge their only one in the 2021-22 tournament so far – and they sit level on points with their Belgian counterparts ahead of the final matchday but with a far superior goal difference.
The battle to secure Europa League football is set to go right down to the wire, but Leipzig’s domestic fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, with a 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin on Friday representing their third Bundesliga defeat on the bounce before it was announced that Jesse Marsch had left the club.
The German giants are also winless in their last three Champions League games on home soil and have conceded two in each of their last four European encounters at the Red Bull Arena, but Guardiola’s men do not exactly have much to play for.
City’s dominance against a Marquinhos-inspired PSG counted for nought in the first half of their clash at the Etihad Stadium, and Guardiola’s side had it all to do in the second half as Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring not long after the restart.
However, last season’s runners-up ultimately made their pressure pay off, as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus turned the tie on its head with two quickfire strikes to ensure that City would qualify for the knockout stages in first place.
The Premier League champions have taken 12 points from a possible 15 in Group A and cannot be caught by PSG at this late stage, and they warmed up for this inconsequential tie with a 3-1 win over Watford thanks to a stellar Bernardo Silva display.
The group leaders now head into Tuesday’s game on a seven-game winning streak across all competitions – scoring at least two goals in each of those encounters – but rather surprisingly, they are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League this term.
No fewer than nine goals were scored in City’s Etihad clash with Leipzig back in September as Guardiola’s men ran out 6-3 winners, but the Citizens will be well aware of what Nkunku can produce after his remarkable hat-trick in that fixture.