Men's Team

Begiristain: RB Leipzig will present a 'difficult' challenge

Director of Football Txiki Begiristain says City will be braced for a ‘difficult’ challenge when we tackle RB Leipzig in the Champions League last 16.

Monday’s draw pitted City against the German side, with Pep Guardiola’s men playing away from home at the Red Bull Arena in the first leg before welcoming the Bundesliga outfit to the Etihad Stadium for the return game.

City and Leipzig are no strangers having met in the Champions League group stages last term when we defeated Leipzig 6-3 at the Etihad before being edged out 2-1 in Germany.

And Begiristain says he is under no illusions that City will face the toughest of tests if we are to progress through to the quarter-finals of European football’s premier tournament.


“Leipzig are not new ones in this competition - they are doing an unbelievable job,” Begiristain pointed out.

“They are in Europe, always, and they are fighting us in the last-16, so they are growing as a club and growing as a project.

“This is German football - very open, box-to-box game, which we don’t like too much, because we like always to have the control - so it’s going to be difficult this kind of football.

“We are going to meet old friends - we played last season against them.

“They were very open games, and we can be sure they will be very attractive games.

“We were able to win the home game, but we struggled a lot. There were a lot of goals, which is nice for the people watching but not for the professional people!

“In the second game, everything was done, and we lost. But we know what they are as a club and as a project and as a team, also what they are doing in Germany, and of course we have to be very careful.”

Looking at the overall draw, Begiristain said the calibre of the sides there – and the fact a number of famous teams were missing - merely demonstrated that the standards of the Champions League had never been higher.


And with the likes of Liverpool facing Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain tackling Bayern Munich, there will be more big names exiting ahead of the quarter-final stage.

Begiristain also said it reinforced the fact that every team had to be granted the utmost respect.

“Some big names and big clubs are already out - some of them are now not playing in Europe because they were last in the group,” Begiristain added.

“It shows how difficult it is in this competition. Everyone has to respect their opponent in this competition and that is what we try to do.

“Liverpool and Real Madrid are two unbelievable clubs, and they were two of the candidates to win, but one will be out.

“But still the ones who are there in the quarter-finals are going to deserve to be there. We want to be one of them.”


With the season set to go on a winter hiatus next week ahead of the World Cup finals before resuming after Christmas, the City Football Director also believes there will be a unique flavour to this season’s Champions League tournament.

After an intense first period of the season with games concertinaed into a shorter time frame, he added the World Cup also offered manager Pep Guardiola and his coaching staff a time a chance to take stock and refresh.

But he said City’s desire and appetite for success was stronger than ever.

“Expectations are always high. We have to try. We have been in a final, another semi-final and we want to be there,” Begiristain added.

“But we have to go step by step. We are happy with the team, with Pep and the staff. We are doing very well. Let’s see what happens now.


“The World Cup is coming and then let’s see how the players are when they are back.

“We want to enjoy holidays first! We are going to watch games at the World Cup, relax and then we will be back very strong.”