Champions League: New format helps RB Leipzig, says Julian Nagelsmann

A one-off Champions League quarter-final will help relative newcomers RB Leipzig take on Atletico Madrid, says manager Julian Nagelsmann.

The Bundesliga side have never made the knockout stage before and face an Atleti side who have twice reached the final in the last six years.

“They have a lot of experience over two legs, but anything can happen in just one game,” Nagelsmann said.

“We will all be thrown into cold water, because of this situation.”

  • Champions League quarter-finals: All you need to know
  • Stories to look out for in latter stages in Lisbon

The winners of the quarter-final in Lisbon will face Paris St-Germain in the last four.

Leipzig will not have Timo Werner available after he signed for Chelsea for £54m.

Werner scored 34 goals in all competitions as Nagelsmann’s side finished third in the Bundesliga.

“We don’t have Werner and I won’t say who will start,” said Nagelsmann.

“But we have players who didn’t play when Werner was here who will now get their chance.”

Atletico coach Diego Simeone told his side to forget the pre-lockdown win at Anfield that knocked out former champions Liverpool.

“A lot of months have passed, and all the excitement and turmoil that arose after the win over Liverpool has died down a bit because of the 100-plus days we’ve been in quarantine,” he said.

“Then with La Liga it all seems like far away now. That win will remain part of the history of Atletico Madrid. But now, a new journey begins.

“I’ll repeat: tomorrow it’s not important to win, it’s the only thing that you can do. We’ll prepare for the game in that way.”

Atletico forward Angel Correa and defender Sime Vrsaljko tested positive for coronavirus before Thursday’s game.

The players are isolating at home and will miss the rest of the tournament.

The two positive cases were discovered after players and staff travelling to Lisbon were tested in Madrid on Saturday.

Players and staff have since been retested with all results negative.

Goals on the way? The stats

  • Atletico Madrid have always progressed against German opposition in the knockout stages of the Champions League (vs Leverkusen in 2014-15 and 2016-17; vs Bayern Munich in 2015-16). In the European Cup era (pre-1992-93), the only time they didn’t prevail was in the 1974 final against Bayern Munich (1-1; 0-4 replay).
  • None of RB Leipzig’s 14 games in the Champions League has ended in a goalless draw. They’ve kept a clean sheet in three of their last five games, after failing to keep a single one in any of their previous nine.
  • Four of RB Leipzig’s last eight goals in the Champions League have come from the penalty spot. In fact, only Atalanta (5) have benefitted from more penalties than Leipzig (4) in this season’s competition.
  • No German side outside of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund has reached the semi-finals of the Champions League since Schalke in 2010-11.
  • Atletico Madrid will attempt to become the first team since Real Madrid in 2013-14 to both beat the Champions League holders and win the tournament in the same season. They have also played the most Champions League/European Cup finals without ever winning one (3 finals, 0 trophies).
  • Since the start of 2019, 12 of Atletico Madrid’s 14 goals in the Champions League have been scored after half-time.
  • 53% of Alvaro Morata’s goals in the Champions League have been scored in the knockout stages (8 out of 15). The Atletico Madrid striker’s eight goals in the knockout stages since 2013-14 is more than any other Spanish player over that period.
  • Emil Forsberg has scored four of RB Leipzig’s last eight Champions League goals. All four goals have come in the opening or closing 10 minutes of the match.

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