5 reasons RB Leipzig will beat Tottenham Hotspur AGAIN in the Champions League last 16
RB Leipzig head into their UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg against Tottenham Hotspur with a Timo Werner-inspired lead, and Julian Nagelsmann ready to show Jose Mourinho how it's done once again.
bundesliga.com examines five reasons why Leipzig's first knockout tie in European club football's elite competition should end in smiles.
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1) Turbo-charged Timo
Leipzig's jet-heeled Germany international has just turned 24, and the worrying thing for those defenders trying to catch him is that he's nowhere near finished improving.
He netted an impressive 21 league goals in 31 Bundesliga matches last season and goes into this game on 21 strikes from 24 matches so far this term, having already equalled his personal season record. Not only that, Werner also scored his fourth Champions League goal of the season to give Leipzig a first leg lead over Spurs from the spot.
Watch: All of Timo Werner's 2019/20 Hinrunde goals
The former Stuttgart striker has also added more to his game, tallying seven assists in the league - meaning he's been involved in more goals than any other Bundesliga player - as he thrives in the new position coach Nagelsmann has carved out for him, one that exploits both his speed and his skill.
"We don't want him right on the last line, because he needs a bit of a head start, a bit of tempo, in order really to show his pace on the pitch," the Leipzig boss explained to bundesliga.com. "When he's on the last line, he often finds himself static when he needs to get going, but with a bit of room in front of him, he can hit top speed. And from this deeper position, he's much more involved in our build-up play and combinations."
2) Danger from everywhere
"We've got to get beyond this image of me being the team's goalscorer," pleaded Werner when he spoke to bundesliga.com earlier this season.
Werner will have to put up with grabbing the headlines just as long as he keeps grabbing bucketloads of goals, but he does have a point: he's not the only threat.
Emil Forsberg - a player more renowned for his passing than his poaching - also hit three of Leipzig's 10 Champions League goals to share the goalscoring burden with Werner, while captain Marcel Sabitzer bagged another two.
Summer recruit Patrik Schick has supplied six in his past ten outings for Die Roten Bullen, ensuring Werner's one goal in his last six games domestically has largely gone unnoticed.
Only captain Harry Kane (6) and Heung-min Son - formerly of Bayer Leverkusen - (5) hit more than one goal for Spurs in the group stage. Kane will miss the tie entirely with a hamstring injury, meaning the north Londoners won't be able to rely on a man who has hit 11 of their 46 league goals this season.
Tottenham have tallied those across 28 English Premier League games, while Leipzig have scored 62 in just 24 Bundesliga outings. The absence of Kane - and the presence of all of Leipzig's attacking arsenal - means the German side have an edge. And a razor sharp one.
3) Deliver a knockout blow
Leipzig are in their maiden Champions League knockout tie and only their third-ever European campaign, but they have already shown an ability to come good when their future in a continental competition is on the line.
Die Roten Bullen have won six and lost just one of their knockout games in Europe - all but one coming in the 2017/18 Europa League - and they also excelled in the winner-takes-all atmosphere of the DFB Cup last season, going all the way to the final.
And if you're looking for a reason for them to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time ever: Leipzig are unbeaten at home in their last 11 home games in all competitions.
4) Nagelsmann, the 'Baby Pep'?
When Tim Wiese was at Hoffenheim, the former Germany international goalkeeper christened Nagelsmann 'Baby Mourinho'.
"I don't know why, exactly, but maybe he could see some similarities," Nagelsmann told bundesliga.com. "I don't think our philosophies are that identical."
They don't look it on the pitch either. While Mourinho has built an astonishing stash of silverware on carefully considered, cautious football, Nagelsmann's Leipzig mimic the 'Special One's' organisational traits, but incorporate them into a forward-thinking, forward-moving unit.
"I always want to see the lads sticking to these principles on the field: attacking our opponents early, being courageous in possession and not showing off, but rather trying to put the things we discuss into practice," explained Nagelsmann.
"Julian Nagelsmann and Pep Guardiola are very similar," Leipzig new boy Angelino said after playing under the ex-Bayern Munich boss at Manchester City. "Their footballing philosophies share a lot of similarities. Whether it's the training methods or playing style, the goals are the same."
The antipathy between Mourinho and Guardiola is well documented, and the Portuguese has good reason to feel unhappy: he's won just six of their 23 dugout duels. If Nagelsmann does prove once again to be more a Mini-Pep than a Baby Mourinho in the pair's second dugout duel, his and Leipzig's reputation will have grown ten-fold.
5) They've got Spurs' number
As well as being one of Europe's deadliest attacking teams, Leipzig are also one of the most defensively sound on the continent and proved it in the first leg in London. Even with first-choice centre-backs Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban all unavailable, Tottenham were held to just six shots on target in front of their own support.
English Premier League loanee Ethan Ampadu came into the side - his first and only start of the season so far for Leipzig - and anchored the Leipzig backline. Either side of him were full-backs Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg, who have played in central defence in recent weeks and conceded just a single goal in their last five outings in all competitions.
Now, with their job on the road done in stopping Spurs from scoring and Upamecano back from suspension to reinforce the defence, Leipzig can open up at home and play their usual expansive, attacking football. Nagelsmann's side have failed to score at home just once this season, against Lyon in the Champions League group stage, and even then they registered 17 shots on target.
And as mentioned before, Spurs are without key forwards Kane and Son which has seen the Premier League side slip to four consecutive defeats in all competitions, scoring only four goals in that time.
"In the second leg, we will do it, I promise you, in the same way," said Nagelsman after the win in London.
So, same again on Tuesday at the Red Bull Arena.
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