Julian Nagelsmann believes RB Leipzig can down Atletico Madrid in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final showdown — despite the departure of talisman Timo Werner.
German marksman Werner scored a staggering 34 goals in 45 outings for Leipzig this season before joining Frank Lampard’s Chelsea for £45million last month.
But while the 24-year-old will be sorely missed, boss Nagelsmann insists he has players waiting to step out of their former team-mate’s shadow to fill the void.
Quite how the Germans will line up in their first quarter-final appearance in European football’s top competition remains to be seen.
For a team so used to blowing opponents away with their attacking style, dealing with the notoriously stubborn Atletico may call for a change of approach.
Having reached this late stage in five of the last seven seasons, Diego Simeone’s men are a mark of consistency at Champions League level.
Four of those runs were only halted by arch-rivals Real Madrid, including two agonising final defeats.
Atletico will be full of confidence having booked their place in the last eight by dumping out reigning champions Liverpool.
Following the resumption of LaLiga in June, they went on an 11-match unbeaten run to finish third behind Barcelona and title-winners Real.
Leipzig, meanwhile, ultimately paid the price for too many draws in an impressive Bundesliga campaign that saw them bettered by just Borussia Dortmund and table-toppers Bayern Munich.
Tonight’s intriguing contest is a one-legged affair due to coronavirus protocols, with the tournament being played to a swift conclusion in Portugal.
The winners will face Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening for a place in the final, which is scheduled for August 23 at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz.
This will be the first competitive encounter between the two teams. It’s also the first time Leipzig have been drawn against a Spanish club in European competition.
No German team outside of Bayern and Dortmund has reached the semi-finals of the Champions League since Schalke in 2010-11.
Since the start of 2019, 12 of Atletico’s 14 goals in the Champions League have been scored after half-time.