Manchester City fan reporter Emily Laycock describes her matchday routine leading up to her team’s incredible win over Leipzig
Game days always start the same: pulling on the sky-blue shirt. Or hoodie, because England is, quite frankly, freezing. It’s ritual, routine, regime, even if it’s a Champions League night from the comfort of my own home.
Moments from the first leg are on repeat in my head throughout the day, including Riyad Mahrez’s clinical opening strike and Joško Gvardiol’s unfortunate equaliser. The nerves don’t rest until I’m settling in the living room an hour before kick-off; an evening of dreams is about to get underway, with Manchester City in European action.
With snacks covering every inch of the table due to my habit of stress eating while watching football, I take my usual seat on the right side of the sofa, with my dad to my left. We predict who will start, who will be on the bench and who the goalscorers will be, with our competitive personalities roaring to life as we check the line-up. I beam with pride as my prediction that Bernardo Silva will start comes to pass.
I predicted a 4-0 win, while my dad was content with a 3-0 scoreline. Neither of us expected Haaland to score five, because who can ever expect that? We did predict a clean sheet, but that was another win for me since my prediction was closer! Our attention is then purely focused on the TV, where the real magic happens. The camera pans over the stands revealing thousands of City supporters singing Blue Moon as the pitch is lit up, my house filled with a similar melody as my dad and I sing as loud as we can to mirror the atmosphere. Agitation and anticipation consume us as we wait for the whistle to blow.
Then the moment finally arrives: the joy of the Champions League is real as the 90 minutes begin. The snacks quickly disappear as my emotions ride a rollercoaster, with my heartbeat unsteady until the Blues secure victory. And they certainly did that in some style.
The only word I can think of to describe Erling Haaland is ethereal. I struggle to comprehend how, at the age of 22, he has scored 30 Champions League goals and become City’s all-time top scorer in a single season. It doesn’t feel like it is achievable within human limits. It’s almost as though these records are just sat awaiting the inevitable: to be destroyed by him. Watching him manipulate defensive lines is astonishing, but watching him do it on the biggest stage is nothing short of breathtaking.
It was an almost indescribable night to be a Cityzen, that ended with our place booked in the final eight of Europe’s most elite club competition. The Champions League made me the epitome of happiness again, even if it had to travel to my living room to do so.