RB Leipzig struggled a bit on the final stage of the German Bundesliga. On a competition with such specific characteristics like this final stretch of the Champions League, will the team have any chances, or will they be a mere supporting actor?
RB LEIPZIG: RECENT HISTORY CAN BE A RED FLAG
One of the important aspects that a bettor looks for in a certain event or competition are reliable teams. This group of teams surely doesn’t include RB Leipzig right now.
The German side struggled a lot after the stoppage due to the COVID-19 and they’ve had a very rocky campaign in the Bundesliga.
Before the break, the distance to the leaders Bayern was only 5 points, but the difficulty of imposing themselves in some matches against teams that didn’t give them space to play in transition was determinant for their failure.
On the 9 matches they’ve played after the return of the league, they’ve lost once and they’ve drawn in 4 other occasions (during this same period, Bayern won all of their matches).
RB Leipzig lost the same 4 times than the champions Bayern. However, they were the team with most draws in the league, alongside the relegated Dusseldorf and the inoperative Schalke 04.
The conditions that will be imposed to them on the Champions League’s quarter finals, during a lot of periods will not be very different from these matches against the tighter teams in the Bundesliga.
Leipzig need to reinvent themselves, and quickly, in order not to let the dream slip away right at the first match.
PERIOD OF INACTIVITY AND ABSENCE OF THE GOALSCORER
A lot was said about the losses of the French clubs on this return of the Champions League, since they’ve suffered with the cancellation of their domestic league and played very few competitive matches since the stoppage.
Leipzig’s condition is slightly less harmful, but it can still have an impact on the decisive matches. They haven’t played since June 27th, when they’ve played in the last round of the Bundesliga.
Until August 13th, which is when they will be facing Atlético de Madrid, they will have 48 days without an official match played. This week, they will play in a friendly against Wolfsburg and maybe they can play some other match, but it doesn’t really count as high-level preparation for the competition.
Another problem that will be faced by them is the departure of their main player: Timo Werner. The attacker was the most wanted player from the team, averaging good goals per season in the past couple of seasons.
On the last season in the Bundesliga, for example, he scored a total of 28 goals, fighting with Robert Lewandowski for the title of top goal scorer until the end.
Werner scored his last 2 goals on the last round of the competition, on Leipzig’s victory by 2-1 over Augsburg. Werner was more than the team’s escape valve, often playing a role on the build-up plays through the left side, having mobility to move to the center and being one of the best finishers in Germany.
The manager Julian Nagelsmann will have to rebuild this scheme, and look for attacking alternatives to threaten Atlético, otherwise he will just have to sit back and wait for the penalties.
CAN LEIPZIG REACH THE FINAL?
Firstly, they will need to reinvent themselves without Timo Werner. That way, setting up a strategy to be able to be effective against a team that is strong without the ball, just like Atlético has the potential to be.
Generally, Leipzig plays on a formation with 3 defenders, 2 wingers with good mobility and they alternate between the deeper lines and quick transition, a lot of times through the wings. They will have to escape the strong marking that Atlético might apply through the middle.
I see the style of this team being more likely to work out against the winner of PSG vs Atalanta, and just like I’ve written about Atlético, this first encounter will be more difficult for the Germans.
I don’t see Leipzig being favoured on this encounter, because they will be facing a team with the same characteristics as the ones who have caused them trouble in the past.
Atlético will not attack, at least not taking the initiative, but rather on specific moments of counterattack. These are teams that don’t consider ball possession to be a determining aspect and will therefore need to alternate taking control of the match.
Amongst the 4 teams on their side of the draw, after Werner’s departure, I see them as being the underdogs to reach the final.
The odds for them to win the Champions League are 15.00 on Bet365, even higher than Atalanta’s. At the same time, the odds for them to reach the final are 6.50, the highest on their side of the draw as well, with all of these being odds offered by Bet365.
The conditions aren’t favourable for them and only a drastic refurbishment could take this team to the final. On a single-leg knockout tie anything can happen, but it doesn’t seem very likely that they will be successful here.