Manchester City will face FC Copenhagen in the first round of 16 match.
The elimination phase in the football Champions League 2023/24 will start on Tuesday (February 13) with two matches. The Manchester City defender will face FC Copenhagen in the opening match of the round of 16, in which the Slovakian representative Denis Vavro is also playing. The most successful club in the competition, Real Madrid, will start the elimination round with a match at RB Leipzig.
The reigning Danish champions from Copenhagen fought their way through the difficult A-group, in which they finished ahead of Galatasaray Istanbul and Manchester United. The December draw in Nyon, Switzerland gave Copenhagen another team from Manchester, whose quality is, however, at a higher level than in the case of the team from Old Trafford.
The Danish champion was able to beat the “Red Devils” 4:3 at his stadium, and he also has pleasant memories of the home match against Citizens. Both teams met in the group stage of the previous LM edition.
At the Parken Stadium, a goalless 0:0 draw was born, which would definitely be welcomed by the outsider’s players before the rematch in England.
“It was the most difficult draw possible. Manchester City is a complete team with great individuals and the best club in the world. Nevertheless, we showed last year that we can get a good result against them at home. It’s about taking our opportunities and getting a result that can take us to Manchester in a good starting position. I believe that we can achieve a positive result at home,” said Jacob Neestrup, head coach of Copenhagen for the official portal uefa.com.
Manchester City are in form
The thirty-five-year-old coach cannot count on the important midfielder Lukas Lerager in the opening match, who saw a red card in the final group meeting against Galatasaray (1:0).
City is showing excellent form before the start of the round of 16. Pep Guardiola’s side have won ten straight in all competitions, not losing since December sixth. Despite the clear position of the favorite, Guardiola draws attention to the unpredictability of the opponent and the treacherous start of the elimination phase.
“They had a group with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Galatasaray, one of the toughest groups, and they advanced. We played in Copenhagen two years ago and we couldn’t win. I know from my experience that the first match of the round of 16 is treacherous. It’s always been difficult and it will be difficult now.”
Real Madrid is also in good shape
Real also has a positive attitude before the opening match, having managed an important match against Girona at home in La Liga over the weekend and leading the table by five points just ahead of the Catalan club.
The “White Ballet” lost only one meeting out of the past 27. On German soil, however, he will not be able to rely on his leading man Jude Bellingham, who sprained his ankle in Saturday’s (February 10) match against Girona and will be out for about three weeks.
“Leipzig is a team that is competitive, has good individuals and they are doing well in the Bundesliga. They won 2-0 against Manchester City in the group stage, so it’s clear they have a lot of quality. However, we have the match in our hands,” commented Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The players of Leipzig have pleasant memories of the previous duel with Real in the Red Bull Arena, as on October 25, 2022 they defeated the 14-time Champions League winner 3:2 in the group stage meeting. However, Leipzig is not in ideal form at the moment, as they scored full points in only one of the previous five meetings.
“Real is a tough opponent, we know the quality of their players, but it’s the Champions League. We are happy to still be part of this competition and will do everything in our power,” said Marco Rose, coach of the currently fifth-placed Bundesliga team.