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Special features: Leipzig's opponents in the top flight

Former England footballer Joe Cole shows the lot of RB Leipzig. / Photo: Daniel Cole/AP/dpa
Former England footballer Joe Cole shows the lot of RB Leipzig. / Photo: Daniel Cole/AP/dpa

With Manchester City, RB Leipzig has plenty of experience in the Champions League. The teams from Belgrade and Bern, on the other hand, are a black box.

RB Leipzig has been drawn in probably the easiest group in its Champions League history. Manchester City is an uber-team, but Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys Bern should not be a major hurdle in Group H.

Manchester City

The coach: Pep Guardiola's biggest fight in sporting terms probably lasted seven years. Then he finally had the Henkelpott as City coach in June in hand. At the moment, the 52-year-old is taking a break following back surgery. Only in September he should be available again after first prognosis.

The key player: Erling Haaland meets indeed, as he wants. But the heart of the City game is Kevin De Bruyne. However, the Belgian is currently missing injured like his coach. As things stand, the 32-year-old will miss large parts of the group stage. For the opponents, this is a real opportunity.

The special: For Leipzig, there will be a quick reunion with Josko Gvardiol. The Croatian international had moved to the island for a good 90 million. "The only nice side note is, we can say goodbye to Josko in a dignified setting," announced sports director Max Eberl.

Red Star Belgrade

The coach: Barak Bakhar came to Red Star only in the summer and promptly repeated what he had done the year before with Maccabi Haifa. The Israeli moved into the group stage of the Champions League. At that time, by the way, this was achieved by winning the playoffs against Red Star.

The key player: The best-known name from a German perspective is certainly Aleksandar Dragovic. The former Leverkusen player is captain of Red Star. But Mirko Ivanic sets the pace of the game. The 29-year-old playmaker has been missing injured for some time, however, coach Bakhar repeatedly spoke of Ivanic returning soon.

The special thing: The atmosphere in the "Maracanã of Belgrade", as the Rajko Mitić stadium is called, is probably one of the best in European soccer. The largest stadium in Serbia holds almost 60,000 fans. "There we all have a lot of emotions and a heated atmosphere in Belgrade in mind," said Eberl.

Young Boys Bern

The coach: Raphael Wicky is known as a Bundesliga professional from Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV. As a coach, the 46-year-old has also already made a name for himself, albeit more at home. In 2017, he led FC Basel to the round of 16 in the top flight. In the summer of 2022, he took over Young Boys, won the championship and the Cup.

The key player: Bern thrives on selling its best players. Just on Thursday, they gave Fabian Rieder for 15 million euros to Rennes. The team comes more about the cohesion, in the storm much weighs on Cedric Itten. The 26-year-old scored 19 times in the league in the past champion season and stands this season at four goals in seven games across all competitions.

The special: In Bern, the ball definitely rolls differently than in the Red Bull Arena. "A good team, plays on artificial turf. That is again a different surface," Eberl emphasized. Prominent opponents have not been able to cope with it. In the group stage of the 2021/22 season, they celebrated a 2-1 win over Manchester United. A year earlier, they beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-3 in the Europa League intermediate round.

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