Defender Manuel Akanji admits Man City made ‘a lot of mistakes’ against Leipzig

By Sports Desk November 29, 2023

Manuel Akanji admits Manchester City need to cut our the errors after being exposed in their comeback victory over RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium.

The holders trailed 2-0 after a lacklustre first-half display in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter before a Phil Foden-inspired recovery saw them fight back to win 3-2.

With their place in the last 16 already secure, there was little cause for alarm on the night but, after recent Premier League draws against Chelsea and Liverpool, the champions are not fully firing.

Switzerland defender Akanji said: “We didn’t play well in the first half. We did a lot of mistakes, (in) a lot of duels.

“We had it change it in the second half. We spoke in half-time that we needed to do better. It still wasn’t great but we improved a lot, we didn’t do many of the mistakes.

“It happens sometimes. We didn’t plan to go into the game like this. The first goal was me losing a duel off the long ball, the second one was Ruben (Dias) after the pass and it happens sometimes.

“Normally we don’t do these mistakes but the good thing is we’ve got a good team.

“Now we have important games before the Club World Cup against Spurs and Villa and we need to really focus on these games. We need points because we drew twice so it’s really important to get winning again.”

Akanji was indeed at fault for the first of Lois Openda’s two first-half goals, with Dias caught out for the second.

Foden sparked the comeback when he teed up Erling Haaland to become fastest player to reach 40 Champions League goals in just his 35th appearance.

The England midfielder then scored a sublime equaliser before showing further nimble footwork to set up the late winner for substitute Julian Alvarez.

The victory ensures City, who travel to Red Star Belgrade next month, will finish top of Group G.

With John Stones again not fit enough to feature, Akanji played in the defence-midfield hybrid role his colleague has excelled in.

“I like it,” Akanji said. “I play wherever the manager puts me but also in the Chelsea game and the weekend against Liverpool I felt more comfortable in there because I got used to the position.

“When you come from defence into midfield it’s a big difference because normally you have all the game in front of you and suddenly there are players coming from all angles.

“But I got a better orientation with the game set-up so I felt more confident. I can adapt pretty good. I play in different positions. I try to listen and do what the manager wants from me.”

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    Foden struck the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth to move the Premier League champions to within one point of leaders Liverpool after 26 fixtures.

    It was Foden’s 16th effort in all competitions this campaign, which equals his previous best tally from the 2020-21 season and made it six goal involvements during February after he hit a hat-trick at Brentford earlier this month.

    “Forget about the goals. Of course they’re important, but do you know how he played? How he controls and accelerates. He has become already a top-class football player,” Guardiola explained.

    “He was before a little boy, good actions. Now he has become already a world-class top player. So good. He can play everywhere, especially in the central positions, which is really, really good.

    “In the middle, I think in the (Club) World Cup in Saudi Arabia, he play really good, he understand more the game. His work ethic and how he runs, everything. He has become a top, top class player.

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    “Phil has this incredible ability, this incredible ability to do it.”

    Foden’s latest decisive effort made it 15 wins from 17 matches for City who remain in the hunt to achieve another treble after last season’s Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League triumphs.

    Next up for Guardiola’s side is a trip to Luton on Tuesday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie, which is the final fixture of a busy February where they have juggled three competitions.

    City’s schedule shows no sign of easing though with league encounters to come against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in March.

    Guardiola added: “We are tired, but we recover. We’ll sleep good, we’ll eat good and we will be ready for Luton. We want to go through. I know it’s very difficult but it is what it is.

    “We played Champions League and all the teams have a long week in the Champions League because the schedule is there. (Then) we played against Brentford and Brentford is dentist. Going to the dentist without anaesthetic.

    “Do you know why we played against Brentford (last week)? We played the World Cup in Saudi Arabia, two games.

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    “I see the schedule, (every) three days and after Tuesday to Sunday, then we have Champions League and then we have another one. United, then maybe I don’t know FA Cup or Brighton, then after Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa. So, yeah still we are there.

    “One point behind after being champions for everything. That is good. I don’t know what is going to happen with my players after they win everything, how they would react? Oh my god. Better than is possible. Impossible, impossible.

    “Every year it’s tough, but I love that it is tough. Okay, we accept it. We accept the challenge, that’s for sure.

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