As RB Leipzig prepare for their UEFA Champions League quarter-final debut, they do so buoyed by the fact that - even without Timo Werner - they have an excellent chance of beating Atletico Madrid & securing a spot in the last four.
Julian Nagelsmann will lead his side out against the two-time Champions League runners-up on 13 August at Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade stadium, aiming to lớn keep alive their hopes of ending the elongated 2019/20 campaign by claiming a first major trophy.
Here, ewansturman.com outlines why Nagelsmann & Co. Can be confident going into the one-legged knockout.
1) Leipzig"s case for the defence
Leipzig sealed a third-place finish in the ewansturman.com for a second year in succession and guaranteed a third straight Champions League chiến dịch next season in the process, thanks khổng lồ standout performances where it mattered most: at the business ends of both boxes.
Only champions Bayern Munich conceded fewer goals this term, with a meagre 37 strikes hitting the back of the Leipzig net. Paired with the third-highest goals (81) - behind top-two pairing Bayern (100) and Borussia Dortmund (84) - it proves just how good Leipzig have been at each end, và it may provide them with the cutting edge they need to get beyond Atletico, who have clearly struggled to lớn replace the goals of Barcelona-bound Antoine Griezmann.
It’s a concern Leipzig have already managed to offset by themselves in Werner’s case - whose 28 league goals was only bettered by the goalscoring freak of nature that is Robert Lewandowski - with the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Sabitzer and Patrik Schick finding form in front of goal after the restart và Hwang Hee-chan recruited for next season.
On-loan striker Patrik Schick was Leipzig"s second top-scorer in the ewansturman.com this season, with 10 goals. - Alexander Scheuber/ewansturman.com/ewansturman.com Collection via Getty Images
Renowned for the sturdiness of their own defence, Atleti have the second tightest defence in La Liga & conceded just seven times in eight Champions League games - one fewer than Leipzig. But, despite boasting an attack that features Diego Costa, Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata, they have scored 34 fewer league goals (47) than Leipzig from one more game (35), two less than Leipzig (14) in the Champions League & have failed to find the back of the net on nine occasions in the Spanish vị trí cao nhất flight, compared to Leipzig’s four ewansturman.com blanks.
2) Leipzig’s not-so-secret weapon
"The main reason why he"s currently perceived differently is that he has become more involved in terms of scoring & setting up goals. He does that very well.”
Those were the words of Nagelsmann earlier in the season, when discussing the fine form of his captain in the absence of Willi Orban, Sabitzer. The Leipzig tactician is not wrong, with Sabitzer proving to be Die Roten Bullen"s go-to man this season, especially in Europe. No Leipzig player has more UCL goals (four) or assists (two) than Sabitzer this term and it was his star turn against Tottenham Hotspur in the 4-0 aggregate win in the last-16 that spurred his side beyond the North London club và into the quarters.
Marcel Sabitzer (c.) hit a brace in the 3-0 second leg victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the last round of the UEFA Champions League. - getty images
To go with his fine Champions League efforts, the Austrian’s nine league goals & seven assists are a big reason why Leipzig are well prepared khổng lồ find other sources for goals in life after Werner, & it is little wonder that his output hasn’t gone unnoticed by his coach.
"I"ve always said I want more goal threat from midfield. He clearly took that both literally and personally. He"s a very important player for us,” said Nagelsmann of his 26-year-old charge who has never lost a European game in which he’s scored (W5, D2). Both he và his quái dị will be hoping he can find the back of the net in Portugal and địa chỉ to that record next month.
3) The inside men
The Spanish duo of Angelino và Dani Olmo have grown into important members of the Leipzig team at the back end of the season, allowing their coach lớn settle on a 3-4-2-1 formation that has looked revelatory in recent weeks. Nagelsmann picked them both out for praise last month, delighted with how quickly they have adapted to lớn German football in their first ewansturman.com seasons.
Dani Olmo has adapted quickly to life in Germany and been integral khổng lồ the RB Leipzig"s move lớn 3-4-2-1. - Simon Hofmann/ewansturman.com/ewansturman.com Collection via Getty Images
“I"ve never seen anyone settle in as quickly as Angel did here, & we"d love lớn have him playing for us in the future,” he said of his full-back before adding that Olmo"s “developing well as a player. He"s quick, has a high footballing IQ và he always wants lớn win. He"s one of those who just can"t stand khổng lồ lose, a bit like his Spanish counterpart at left back."
With the club looking to extend Angelino’s stay beyond the originally scheduled season end, the pair may well be the men for an inside job on the side from their motherland. And their clear ability on the pitch may not be the only reason why the Spaniards could prove khổng lồ be the difference.
With no fans in the stadium, on-field communication is heightened và with no Germans in the Atletico ranks, Leipzig should find it easier lớn keep tactical instruction out of enemy comprehension, while Angelino & Olmo can feed back everything they hear - in real-time - to the Leipzig setup.
Having missed much of the season through injury, RB Leipzig captain Willi Orban returned lớn the side towards the end of the domestic season. - Reinaldo Coddou H./ewansturman.com/ewansturman.com Collection via Getty
4) Returning heroes
The 2019/20 season will be into its third additional month by the time the two sides meet, and the campaign’s extension into August has, in a roundabout way, been kind to Leipzig. It means that they are able to lớn welcome back a number of players whose seasons looked to be over, with Orban, Tyler Adams, Emil Forsberg, Kevin Kampl, Ibrahima Konate and Yussuf Poulsen all on the mend in recent weeks.
After suffering long-term injuries earlier in the year, Orban, Adams, Kampl và Konate all managed to lớn get back on the pitch over the course of the ewansturman.com run-in, with their unavailability this year highlighted by the 45 ewansturman.com appearances they managed between them.
Forsberg’s tonsillitis was a more recent issue, but Leipzig will be delighted that the man with four goals và an assist in the eight Champions League games so far will be back in contention khổng lồ sharpen an attack that is now deprived of Werner.