Kevin De Bruyne redefines the idea of going back to the basics in his outstanding performance against Leipzig in the Champions League last-16 second leg at Etihad Stadium. There has been a lot of controversy about this game.
Due to his recent slump in performance, Pep Guardiola recommended Kevin De Bruyne to get back to the basics before the Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig match. De Bruyne answered by calling himself a “old man” in the sport. The Belgian, though, demonstrated during the game that he was still at the peak of his game by making spectacular crosses and clearly proving his argument. He made his intentions clear right away by hitting the crossbar and assisting Erling Haaland on his second goal in as many minutes.
Despite recent poor headlines, De Bruyne enjoyed support from the crowd both before and during the game, and following his contribution to the goal, the Etihad Stadium was filled with chants for him. Manchester City has two players for the major event in De Bruyne and Haaland. De Bruyne continued to control play, create opportunities for his teammates, and block everything that came his way as he dominated the game. He scored the game-winning goal with an incredible curler into the top corner, giving City a total of seven goals. In conclusion, for De Bruyne, going “back to basics” meant playing at his peak during a key game and dominating the field.
Within just two minutes of the match against Leipzig, Erling Haaland swiftly recovered his astonishing goal-per-game average by scoring his second consecutive penalty and added a second goal off a rebound after Kevin De Bruyne’s strike struck the crossbar. The Norwegian striker was acquired by Manchester City in order to contribute in contests like this, and he most definitely did.
Haaland’s all-around performance, though, was even more spectacular because he was more actively involved in the game than in the first leg, where City had struggled to use him. He was positioning himself deep to start counterattacks, applying pressure to defenders with his imposing demeanor, and nearly scored a hat-trick in the opening period. The icing on top of an outstanding performance were his fourth and fifth goals.
This game highlighted Haaland’s lethal finishing abilities, but it also showed his increased contribution to the build-up play, which is encouraging for Manchester City. Haaland might be in his most dangerous form at the ideal time if he keeps scoring goals and integrates himself into the team’s strategies.
With an assist on the fourth goal, Jack Grealish made a significant contribution to Manchester City’s win over Leipzig. Grealish has become one of City’s go-to players on big occasions after starting 12 of the last 13 games and primarily operating on the left. Guardiola’s selection of Grealish over Foden and Mahrez as the only known winger on the field this season is evidence of his development. Grealish received plaudits from the boss despite being replaced in the second half and is most likely to keep playing a significant role for the squad.
Erling Haaland was the game’s star, scoring a hat-trick and nearly adding two more, but Manu Akanji deserves some of the credit as well because he was twice denied from close range before Haaland followed. Given that Guardiola has said he will reward players who are performing well, Akanji should continue to hold down a starting spot in defense.
Contrarily, Aymeric Laporte has been omitted from the starting lineup in 15 of the team’s 20 games since the World Cup, indicating that Guardiola no longer favors him for pivotal matches. Laporte has already expressed his annoyance at being left off the team, and his lack of playing time may eventually force him to leave.