Angelino and Julian Nagelsmann (l-r.) have RB Leipzig full of confidence ahead of their trip to Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. - © getty images
Angelino and Julian Nagelsmann (l-r.) have RB Leipzig full of confidence ahead of their trip to Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. - © getty images
bundesliga

5 reasons RB Leipzig will beat Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League

RB Leipzig are unbeaten in 2020/21 and boast two of European football's most coveted names in Angelino and Julian Nagelsmann. bundesliga.com explains why Manchester United have everything to fear against the current Bundesliga leaders in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group H meeting at Old Trafford...

>> Click here for Man Utd-Leipzig team news!

1) Nagelsmann tops Solksjaer

"I work like a baker. I mix things, shove them in the oven and see if it tastes well." That, in his own words, is the recipe to Nagelsmann's success.

Nicknamed 'Baby Mourinho' by former Germany goalkeeper Tim Wiese on account of his wide-ranging tactical nous, the 33-year-old has become one of Europe's most coveted young coaches in half the time it took Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - a hit in the Molde hot seat, underwhelming on the Cardiff City touchline - to earn a shot at the Man United job.

Julian Nagelsmann (c.) took Leipzig to the last four of the 2019/20 Champions League - only his second campaign as a coach in the competition. - imago images

In the five years that proceeded a knee injury that ended his hopes of playing professionally, Nagelsmann set about a career in coaching. He worked, among others, under tactics pedant Thomas Tuchel at Augsburg, and enjoyed his first taste of success by steering the Hoffenheim U19s to the Junior Bundesliga title.

By the time he was 28 - the same age Solksjaer was when he helped Man Utd win the 2000/01 English Premier League title as a player - the Bavarian native had been appointed Hoffenheim's senior coach.

The youngest of his type in Bundesliga history, Nagelsmann belied his relative inexperience to transform the club from relegation contenders into Champions League debutants in a critically acclaimed three-or-so-year tenure.

Joining Leipzig at the start of 2019/20, the greenest tactician in a Champions League dugout surpassed expectations by taking the Saxony club - founded in 2009 - to the competition's semi-finals. Five matches into the new campaign, Die Roten Bullen - last season's nominal autumn champions - lead the Bundesliga standings.

All told, they have only lost seven times in 54 matches under Nagelsmann, and last term were the only team on the European continent to stop Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich from scoring.

Watch: Under the bonnet of Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig

United, by contrast, are 15th in the Premier League table in the early stages of Solksjaer's second full campaign in charge. They have not gone further than the Champions League quarter-finals on the Norwegian's watch, whilst their averages for points per game (1.79 to 2.06), goals scored (1.80 to 2.29) and goals conceded (1.10 to 1.07) are all less favourable than Nagelsmann's Leipzig.

Solksjaer may have enjoyed a more successful playing career - winning six Premier League titles, the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League and two FA Cups whilst scoring 127 goals in his pomp for Man U - but Nagelsmann is the superior coach.

2) Angelino: Nagelsmann's choice wingman

Nagelsmann's use of attacking wing-backs is key to his progressive philosophy. In Angelino, he has arguably the best left-sided variant in the world today.

The Spain U21 international joined Leipzig on a six-month deal in January, having been frozen out at parent club Manchester City. He ended the campaign having produced goal and two assists in 13 Bundesliga outings, and has only improved after returning on a year-long loan with an option to make the move permanent.

With a goal against each of Schalke and Augsburg, as well as a match-winning brace at home to Istanbul Basaksehir, Angelino has scored more goals than any defender based in Europe's top five leagues in 2020/21. Tackling Man United team that lined up with a back three in their Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain head on, the 5'6" wide man could have a field day.

It might be as close as Man City fans get to seeing the former NAC Breda and PSV Eindhoven pocket-rocket sock it to their fierce local rivals.

3) Goals all over the pitch

Angelino's involvement from left wing-back is reflective of how successfully Leipzig are sharing the goal-scoring load in the post-Timo Werner era - just as Nagelsmann predicted.

"Obviously you can't replace a player like Timo like-for-like, so we'll have to share out his [34 goals and 13 assists] between more players," he explained following the Germany forward's summer move to Chelsea.

Since then, 10 different players - two forwards, four midfielders and four defenders - have collectively weighed in with 18 goals in all competitions for Leipzig.

Club captain Marcel Sabitzer added his name to the list from the penalty spot in Saturday's 2-1 win at Hertha Berlin and - having tallied 16 goals and 11 assists last term - would surely have opened his account sooner but for injury.

Austria international Marcel Sabitzer (c.) is feeling the love of Nagelsmann at Leipzig. - Roger Petzsche via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Picture Point LE

Nagelsmann also has Alexander Sorloth to play with. The Norway international joined Leipzig in September, having top scored in the 2019/20 Turkish Süper Lig and Cup for Trabzonspor with 33 goals.

Given the gains made by the likes of Ishak Belfodil, Joelinton, Andrej Kramaric, Mark Uth and Werner in seasons past, it’s fair to assume Sorloth will become an even more potent threat in the months ahead.

He also gives his coach a plethora of options in the final third not readily available to a Marcus Rashford-reliant Man United. The England forward has had a direct hand in eight of the Red Devils' 17 goals in all competitions in 2020/21.

4) Dayot Upamecano: the world's best young centre-back

Dayot Upamecano is one of the names on the aforementioned list of Leipzig scorers. The France international scored an equaliser any forward worth his salt would have been proud of against Hertha on Saturday, showing quick feet to beat a couple of defenders and lashing in with aplomb - but it's his defensive prowess that Rashford and Co. really ought to be worried about.

A Bundesliga debutant at 18 and a fully fledged France international three years on, Upamecano is a big reason why Leipzig have the second-best defence in the Bundesliga this season with three conceded.

The 6'4", 198lbs behemoth has won more tackles than any other Bundesliga defender (81), and has also ensured clean sheets in the his side’s opening DFB Cup and Champions League fixtures - while his 91 per cent pass completion through 2019/20 attests to his ball-playing abilities, much like his 2019/20 Champions League-high 113 successful vertical passes.

No wonder - if reports in the English press are to be believed - the Red Devils tried so hard to sign him from Valenciennes at 16.

A sentry, pass-master and goalscorer: Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is the real deal. - Roger Petzsche via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Picture Point LE

5) Unbeaten in 2020/21

With General Upamecano at the heart of the Leipzig defence, it is little wonder Nagelsmann's troupe only lost seven of 44 matches last season, and are unbeaten across their seven competitive matches in 2020/21.

Reigning Turkish champions Basaksehir were dispatched in a manner befitting a seasoned Champions League veteran on Matchday 1; not one - like Leipzig - that is playing in the competition for only the third time in their history. But what's new?

Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid came a cropper in last season's quarter-finals, after Tottenham Hotspur had suffered a 4-0 aggregate defeat at Leipzig hands in the previous round.

That's Jose Mourinho's Spurs - the very team that thumped Solskjaer's United 6-1 at the start of October, inflicting one of two home defeats on the Red Devils so far this term.

Leipzig, meanwhile, have only lost twice on their travels this calendar year. Don't expect that to change at the Theatre of Dreams...