While the neutrals hoped for a revival on Tuesday night, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City ended up playing out a toothless 0-0 in rural Germany.
However, despite the fact that the Sky Blues may now have had to settle for a goalless draw while on Champions League duty, the reigning Premier League champions did take the top spot in Group G.
With Riyad Mahrez once again disappointed from 12 yards when the ex-Leicester player saw his penalty go down in the second half, Pep Guardiola would have been somewhat disappointed with his team’s performance.
However, held back by a Dortmund side that showed great determination on Tuesday night, the German giants also did enough to clinch their own play-off.
In a showdown in which the odds were very expensive, we covered the main topics for discussion.
Are City still Europe’s favourites?
While City may have been disappointed that they missed the chance for their side to set up another European marker on Tuesday night, the former Barcelona boss would have been delighted to see his superstars take top spot in Group G with time to spare.
Overwhelmed in Madrid last season when they were eventually eliminated in the semi-finals after a stunning 6-5 aggregate loss to Los Blancos, the English giants are desperate to make real history this time around.
Watching Real Madrid and Juventus suffer their own shocking defeats in the Champions League midweek, many see Guardiola’s team as an outstanding candidate for their first European crown.
While City may now have had to settle for a stalemate with Copenhagen and BVB, Tuesday’s visitors made it to the playoffs without much sweat.
After scoring just one goal in any of five Group G matches this year, is it finally the year City put an end to their European woes?
The quiet return of Halland
While Manchester City might have managed to make it to the play-offs here, there’s no doubt that one Erling Haaland would be disappointed if he didn’t mark his return to Germany with a flurry.
Having moved from Dortmund in the summer after Guardiola’s team activated a £52.5m release clause for the 22-year-old, Haaland has only continued to pick up form.
With yet another brace in City’s 3-1 win over Brighton last weekend, the Norwegian superstar has already scored 22 goals in all competitions since arriving in the English top flight.
However, despite BVB visiting Etihad on September 14 with a win, Haaland endured a sad return to his former club on Tuesday night.
Shut off by German footballer Max Hummels and failing to create a clear chance, City’s latest offensive icon was also replaced at half-time, upsetting many in Manchester’s blue half.
However, filmed here as a precautionary measure, Haaland will no doubt be looking to up his tally when City travel to Leicester on Saturday afternoon.
Real advantages for Dortmund to rely on
While Borussia Dortmund may have shown some continued inconsistencies since the opening of the 2022/23 campaign, the German giants should be bolstered by a couple of tough performances over the past few days.
Heartbroken at Etihad last month when they eventually suffered a 2-1 defeat in Manchester, Edin Terzic’s side once again caused a number of problems for the Premier League champions.
Ahead of Tuesday’s clash after they made it to a 5-0 home win against Stuttgart, the former West Ham manager also saw his side fail to score in each of their previous three matches across all formats.
More than deserving of their point here, Dortmund have also managed to break through their play-off ticket with plenty of time to spare and the mood in their camp should be high.
While Terzić’s team could still find themselves outside of the top four in the Bundesliga, the BVB should take a lot of positives from another solid mid-week performance.
Borussia Dortmund: Male, Sule, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Azar, Adeyemi, Bellingham, Can, Brandt, Reina, Mukoko
Subscriptions: Wolff, Modest, Malene, Papadopoulos
Manchester: Ortega, Stones, Diaz, Ake, Canselu, Foden, Gundogan, Rodri, Mahrez, Alvarez, Haaland
Subscriptions: Silva, Akanji, Grealish, Palmer
Yellow cards: Borussia Dortmund: Hummels – Manchester City: Akanji, Alvarez, Gundogan, Canselu
Red cards: N/A
Referee: Davide Massa