The blistering speed and guile of Timo Werner and Christopher Nkunku (l-r.) will go a long way to helping RB Leipzig beat Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. - © IMAGO/Christian Schroedter/IMAGO/Christian Schroedter
The blistering speed and guile of Timo Werner and Christopher Nkunku (l-r.) will go a long way to helping RB Leipzig beat Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. - © IMAGO/Christian Schroedter/IMAGO/Christian Schroedter

5 reasons RB Leipzig will beat Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League


Under the guidance of a new coach and with one of Europe's more formidable attacking duos, RB Leipzig are well positioned to bounce back from an early Group F setback and shock reigning European champions Real Madrid in their own back yard. offers five reasons for Die Roten Bullen to believe.

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1) Nkunku and Werner

When contemplating any Leipzig victory, one needn't look any further than an attacking partnership with enough combined quality to make any defensive set-up quake. Sure Timo Werner is still finding his turbo-charged feet after re-joining the club that saw him become a household name in the European game.

However, with four goals and three assists in his seven appearances in all competitions for Die Roten Bullen since making a summer switch back from Chelsea, the 26-year-old is already posting digits that promise of plenty to come.

Werner is also a man for the big occasion, as was proved in the forward's feats of winning UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup glory with his previous side. Indeed, Werner even scored for Chelsea against Real Madrid on the way to the Blues winning a second European Cup. The Germany international was on target against Los Merengues in the tournament's semi-final second leg back in May 2021.

Watch: Timo Werner - RB Leipzig take II

Alongside the 26-year-old in attack this week will be the 2021/22 Bundesliga Player of the Season, Christopher Nkunku. The man who weighed in with an astounding 20 goals and 13 assists in 34 top-flight appearances last season played a fundamental role in Leipzig finishing in the top four and thus securing a Champions League group stage berth this term.

The France international was also on target four times and assisted three goals during Leipzig's successful DFB Cup campaign last term. Crucially, the 24-year-old netted in the final and also during his team's penalty shootout success as Leipzig lifted their first major trophy.

The on-field movement of Werner and Nkunku will provide Madrid with plenty of headaches and both will be keen to help Die Roten Bullen put a dent in the European Champions as they seek to lift Leipzig following their opening group game defeat.

Watch: Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig's superstar

2) Supporting cast

The loss of Dani Olmo to injury is a big setback for Leipzig; not only are they deprived of the attacking midfielder's guile in the final third, he no doubt also possesses some insider knowledge on how to get the better of Spain international teammates Dani Carvajal, Dani Ceballos and Lucas Vazquez.

However, Leipzig will be grateful that they are so well stocked when it comes to midfield schemers. Emil Forsberg is a wily veteran who thrives on the big stage, while Dominik Szoboszlai showed in the 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the weekend just what a menace he can be, his 25-yard stunner unstoppable for any goalkeeper.

Then, of course, there's the bite and drive of Konrad Laimer in central midfield, ably supported by the left boot of Germany international David Raum on the left. That midfield combining skill, vision, aggression and width usually proves too hot to handle for most opponents.

3) A Rose with thorns

New Leipzig coach Marco Rose may not have the most intimidating-sounding surname, but like the flower itself you’d better watch out. The 46-year-old, who parted ways with Dortmund at the end of last season, got one over his former employers in his first game in the Leipzig dugout on Saturday, his side proving clinical in a 3-0 success.

He has previous when it comes to facing Real and Carlo Ancelotti, too. Rose was at the helm when Salzburg beat Ancelotti’s Napoli 3-1 in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg in 2018/19, while his Borussia Mönchengladbach side were outstanding in a 2-2 draw against Madrid in the Champions League group stage in 2020, having led 2-0 up until the 87th minute. In short, he will not be fazed by the Spaniards’ name or reputation.

And then there is the matter of the ‘new-coach bounce’, to give the term its official name. A team’s results often improve when a new boss comes in, with players given a clean slate and a chance to shine and stake their claims for a place in the side. And what better time to impress your coach than away at the reigning European champions?

Watch: Leipzig beat Dortmund 3-0 at the weekend 

4) RBL’s reign in Spain

Another cause for optimism in the Leipzig camp is the fact that they are unbeaten against Spanish opposition. The sample size may be admittedly small – Leipzig were only founded in 2009 after all – but they beat Real’s city neighbours Atletico in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2019/20.

Leipzig also won one and drew one against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last season – triumphing 3-1 away from home. As omens go, they’re not half bad.

New Leipzig boss Marco Rose (l.) got his reign off to a winning start and has previously got one over current Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti (r.). - via images / HochZwei/Syndication

5) Los Merengues’ soft underbelly

They may be the reigning and record European champions, but history tells us that Real Madrid often aren’t at their best in the group stage of the competition. Last season they lost their first competition outing at home in a 2-1 reverse against Sheriff Tiraspol, continuing a trend in recent years.

In both 2020/21 and 2019/20, they won just three of their six group stage games each season, including defeats home and away against Shakhtar Donetsk and a 2-2 draw with Club Brugge.

If Leipzig are alert, then, they could well catch Madrid napping. Indeed their overall record against German clubs is sprinkled with defeats - and some heavy ones at that - with losses against Bayern, Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and Gladbach over the years amounting to a 32.8 percent defeat rate against Bundesliga sides (24 out of 73), compared to 35 wins (47.8 percent).