RasenBallsport Leipzig, the east German football club founded on May 19, 2009 in the small town of Markranstädt, are one game away from reaching the pinnacle of European football, the Champions League final. However, standing in their way is Paris Saint-Germain, one of the richest, most marketable, and biggest spenders in world football.
In what can be described as the biggest match of the club’s brief history to date, Leipzig became the first team without the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo to knock Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid out of the Champions League since the Argentine’s appointment in December 2011. The likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Barcelona, Liverpool, and Juventus have tried and failed, but Leipzig did it in the dominant manner Julian Nagelsmann has been demanding from his players in big games all season.
Tyler Adams’ 88th-minute deflected winner, which saw him become the first American to score in the Champions League quarter-final, meant Leipzig are now the first east German team to reach a European semi-final since Lokomotive Leipzig finished runners-up in the 1986/87 Cup Winners’ Cup. As a result, Nagelsmann became the first head coach to knock both Simeone and José Mourinho out of the competition in the same season.
The mood within the camp was already at a high heading into the competition and Thursday’s result will have only enhanced it. The squad will need to use this growth in confidence to full effect against the Parisian side and help Nagelsmann achieve his first competitive win over Thomas Tuchel, the man that helped launch his coaching career by appointing him as his opposition scout for Augsburg II after a career-ending knee injury in 2008, on the fourth attempt.
There will be weighty expectations on Paris Saint-Germain’s shoulders to win this season’s competition after qualifying for the club’s first Champions League semi-final since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) in 2011, thanks to two last-minute goals from Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to break Atalanta hearts. PSG boast a favourable record against German opposition having won 11 of 20 encounters, and have won three of the past four meetings.
Les Parisiens will be aiming to reach the club’s first European final since winning the Intertoto Cup in 2001, but will be missing the presence of Keylor Navas, who injured his hamstring against Atalanta, and possibly Marco Verratti. Regardless, the return of Kylian Mbappé to the line-up could prove pivotal and he could be the one to knock out the team that almost signed him as a 16-year-old, preventing a potential all-German final.
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Kick-off: 21:00 (CEST) | 15:00 (EST)
Venue: Estádio da Luz (capacity: 65,647)
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Broadcasting: BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom), DAZN (Germany), TUDN (United States)
18.07.14: RB Leipzig 4-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-2 (H) | Borussia Dortmund 0-2 (H) | Augsburg 1-2 (A) | Wolfsburg 1-1 (H) | Atlético Madrid 2-1 (N/W)
Celtic 4-0 (H) | Saint-Étienne 1-0 (N/W) | Lyon 0-0 (6-5 pens.) (N/W) | Sochaux-Montbéliard 1-0 (H) | Atalanta 1-2 (N/W)
Injured: Ibrahima Konaté (hip)
Absent: Hwang Hee-chan (ineligible), Benjamin Henrichs (ineligible), Josep Martínez (ineligible)
Injured: Keylor Navas (hamstring)
Doubtful: Marco Verratti (calf), Idrissa Gueye (muscle)
Gulácsi – Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg, Angeliño – Laimer, Kampl – Sabitzer, Nkunku – Poulsen, Olmo. (4-2-2-2)
Rico – Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat – Herrera, Marquinhos, Parades – Mbappé, Icardi, Neymar. (4-3-3)
“Simply having a good performance is not enough against PSG. You have to give it 110 per cent. We are obviously happy to have reached the semis, but don’t want our journey to end here. We will not be able to defend against everything. But, the same is true for PSG. The players will need to be bold and create chances for themselves. In the end, the team that wins will be the one that manages to score more goals.”Julian Nagelsmann on what is required from RB Leipzig to progress to the Champions League final. [RB Leipzig]
“Like Atalanta, Leipzig adapt to our formation. Their game is less one-on-one, but they defend going forward, very aggressively, very bravely, and always thinks offensively. Their players are young and fast. But there are also certain details that differentiate Leipzig from Atalanta. It’s going to be a very physical match and we’ve prepared for it.”Paris Saint-Germain head coach, Thomas Tuchel, on facing RB Leipzig. [Paris Saint-Germain]
RB Leipzig 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain