A real “duel” begins this Tuesday at the Estadio da Luz, in Lisbon, in the semifinals of UEFA Champions League 2020, bringing together France’s PSG and Lyon against the German teams of Bayern and RB Leipzig.
The first battle is between the powerful and starry Paris Saint-Germain, who defeated Atalanta in the last minutes in the quarterfinals, and the surprise RB Leipzig – who defeated the favorite Atletico de Madrid.
Nine years after being bought by an investment fund from the government of Qatar, receiving millions of euros, and assuming the hegemony of French football, PSG now aims to reach its first final of the biggest European tournament.
However, PSG’s Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas will be absent with an injury to his right thigh. On the other hand, Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria will reinforce the squad when he returns to the team after suspension.
On the side of RB Leipzig, young coach Julian Nagelsmann will meet again and try to surprise his mentor – precisely PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who started him in his career by offering him the post of a performance analyst.
“It will be difficult, but we need to do teamwork and put pressure on them. Football is interesting when both sides like to attack,” declared Nagelsmann, indicating that he does not intend to play just to stop the French stars.
The only absentee of RB Leipzig is defender Ibrahima Konate, with a hip problem.
The winner will be a first-time participant in the grand final of the Champions League next Sunday, also at Estadio da Luz, against the winner of the clash between Bayern and Lyon.
Read alsoGoalkeeper Gulácsi becomes the first Hungarian to reach Champions League semis
Five reasons why Leipzig has made it to the top
Of the four UEFA Champions League semifinalists, RB Leipzig’s story is akin to a fairy tale.
While Bayern’s opponent Lyon has established itself in the upper reaches of European football in the past two decades, Leipzig’s development – ahead of the match against
Paris Saint-Germain and their German coach Thomas Tuchel, is amazing the sports world almost like no other.
How has a club founded in 2009 managed to go from the fifth tier of German football to the semifinals of Europe’s top competition so quickly?
Meanwhile, common sense dictates that it wasn’t only the massive investment of club owner Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian energy drink manufacturer.
Julian Nagelsmann is the youngest coach to reach the last four of Champions League.
The 33-year-old stands for the new generation of innovative coaches, delivering tactical surprises alongside aggressive attacking football. His side can change easily from a three-man defense to a chain of four.
Having rejected an offer from Real Madrid in 2018, the German is attracting worldwide attention among leading clubs.
Nagelsmann said he didn’t feel experienced enough to take over a club like Real or move abroad with his family two years ago.
After knocking out star coaches like Jose Mourinho (Tottenham) and Diego Simeone (Atletico), the rookie could well be on the move shortly.
The successor to Ralf Rangnick has added robustness and stability to Leipzig’s traditional fast attacking style. Players claim to be highly attracted by his ideas.
From the start, it has been the club’s policy to sign gifted talents under the age of 23.
The team has grown together as six players in the current squad were part of the team that made its way from the third to the first division.
The club’s strategy requires a large-scale scouting operation. The club counts on the partnership with several clubs founded by their parent company in the United States, Europe, and South America.
“It makes it easier for talents to join Leipzig as they already know about our way of football,” Nagelsmann said.
The 62-year-old claims to have been influenced by Italian tactical icon Arrigo Sacchi and Ukrainian coach Valery Lobanovskyi.
Both triggered his passion for modern tactics in the 1980s.
Before taking over as sporting director and coach at Leipzig in 2012, Rangnick led Hoffenheim from the third division to the Bundesliga.
Since then, Rangnick has become known as Germany’s leading tactical and development expert.
For Leipzig, he always choose innovative coaches. Signing Nagelsmann was his latest achievement.
Even without established stars, Leipzig has managed to create an excellent team spirit.
Despite having lost their leading striker Timo Werner to Chelsea, the team can deal with pressure.
The almost unknown Dayot Upamecano has developed into one of Europe’s most promising central defenders – alongside Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann, who have both been capped for Germany.
Upcoming stars like Austrians Konrad Laimer and Marcel Sabitzer, Slovenia’s Kevin Kampl, and the Spaniard Angelino make up the midfield engine room.
Forwards Christopher Nkunku, Dani Olmo, Yussuf Poulsen, Emil Forsberg, and Patrick Schick put the fear into defenders with their pace.
Source: Xinhua, By Oliver Trust
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