Can Plucky Leipzig Nullify Neymar?

Last updated: August 18, 2020 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Tuesday, 20:00
Venue: Estadio da Luz
Coverage: BT Sport 1
Home Form: WDLWW
Away Form: WWWWW
Last Meeting: Leipzig 4 – 2 PSG
Competition: UEFA Champions League

RB Leipzig has been the surprise package of the tournament so far, a win against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals secured the Germans their first semi-final spot. They face a star-studded PSG team, also aiming for a place in the final for the first time in their history.

Leipzig is one step closer from being the seventh different German club to reach the final of the Champions League while PSG could be the first French side since Monaco did so in the 2003-04 campaign. A club that was only founded in 2009 and gained promotion to the German Bundesliga in 2016. , Leipzig has raised the bar in what a club can achieve and look set to be regulars with the big boys for the foreseeable future, a remarkable achievement in such a short period.

Julian Nagelsmann was forced into early retirement at Augsburg; his then manager Thomas Tuchel nudged him into coaching, starting as a scouting agent. Nagelsmann became the youngest manager in Bundesliga history when he took over 1899 Hoffenheim in February 2016. He performed miracles there, winning 7 of the last 14 matches to avoid relegation. The next year, they finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League. He joined Leipzig in June 2019. He now finds himself living beyond his wildest dream.

Leipzig’s arrival in the semi-finals is no fluke, having knocked out last season’s finalists Tottenham 4 – 0 on aggregate in the round of 16 and four-time finalists and Atletico Madrid, in the quarter-finals. Daniel Olmo opened the scoring for Leipzig in the 51st minute, wonderkid João Félix equalised from the spot in the 71st minute. The German’s triumphed with just two minutes left with Tyler Adams putting in the winner.

A player to watch is the Leipzig captain Marcel Sabizter. He has been the stand out star providing devastating performances in the heart of their midfield. He has a remarkable tally of 16 goals and 11 assists, and Leipzig’s chances could well rest on his shoulders. Another vital player is central defender Dayot Upamecano, the 23-year-old averages three vital tackles per game and makes 3.7 clearances per Champions League match. He will need to be on his top game with the likes of Neymar, Icardi, and Mbappe to think about.

Paris Saint Germain have conquered every German opposition they have faced, including Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16. The French outfit fought back from a goal down to beat Atlanta in their quarter-final to reach the semi-final for the first time since 1995, where they lost 3 – 0 on aggregate to AC Milan.

An unlikely scorer Marquinhos equalised the early Mario Pasalic goal in the dying minutes of the ninety. Just One hundred and forty-nine seconds later, PSG was celebrating the winner after two substitutes, Kylian Mbappe, and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, combined to make the most of Neymar’s magical pass.

This game is Paris Saint Germain’s biggest chance to shine, having faced a kind knockout schedule and the availability of Neymar, who missed the last two season’s knockout stages with injuries, a silver lining in their quest. Neymar has been on top form, showing us the mature side of his game that has always been shadowed by showboating and unnecessary drama both on and off the pitch in the past. The most expensive player in the world has often been labelled the pantomime villain but gave a Ballon d’Or contender performance in his last two games, assisting the opening goal in the first and cracking open the defence in the second.

PSG have scored in each of their last 33 Champions League games, only one behind the all-time record held by Real Madrid who managed 34 between 2011 and 2014. Neymar’s tally of 70 goals and 40 assists in 83 appearances shows why the French champions paid so much for him. Another big-fee star, Kylian Mbappe, also has the ability to shine; he has five goals and five assists.

PSG and Lyon in the semi-finals mean this is the first time two French sides have featured in this stage and would be a first all-French final if they both qualify. Alternatively, we could see an all-German final if Leipzig win and Munich win their clash against Lyon tomorrow.

Team News

Leipzig was formed in 2009 and played in the German Bundesliga for the first time in 2016; this is just their second season in the Champions League and the first time in the semi-final.

Marcel Sabizter is Leipzig most dangerous player going forward with nine goals and eight assists this season (4 in the Champions League).

Di Maria was suspended for the Atlanta clash but can now feature in the star-studded PSG line-up, although a spot on the bench looks likely.

Neymar has not featured at this stage of the competition for the past two years. He has a tally of a goal every 97 minutes.

Expected Line-Ups:

Leipzig (3-4-2-1): Glacis, Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenbeg, Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino, Forsbeg, Schick, Nkunku
Subs: Mvogo, Tschauner, Orbam, Konate, Haidara, Adams, Olmo, Krauss
Injured: Poulsen
Not available:
PSG (4-2-3-1): Rico, Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Herrera, Marquinhos, Gana, Neymar, Icardi, Sarabia
Subs: Bulka, Sarabia, Paredes, Choup-Moting, Diallo, Draxler, Bakker, Dagba, Soh, Di Maria
Injured: Navas
Not available:

So Far This Season

. . .
Leipzig This Season PSG This Season
3rd League Position 1st
6 (3) Wins (away) 7 (3)
3 – 0 v Spurs Biggest Win 5 – 0 v Galatasary
2 (1) Draws (away) 1 (1)
0 – 2 v Lyon Biggest Defeat
Sabizter (4) Top Goal Scorer Mbappe (5)
Y18, R0 Discipline Y11, R0
1 Failures to Score 0
33% Clean Sheets 67%
57% Both Teams to Score Games 60%
67% Over 2.5 Goals 67%
33% Under 2.5 Goals 33%
  • This game will be the first competitive match between the two sides; they have just met once in a friendly match in which the German team triumphed 4-2.
  • Kylian Mbappe’s 5 goals and five assists will be the best numbers in the field while Sabizter, who has four goals and three assists tops the charts for the opponents.
  • This game will be a battle between a star-studded side with great individual brilliance and an average side individually but a great team collectively.
  • Neymar is the man to watch as the best quality player in the pitch whose performance can be the difference if he steps up for his team.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
18/07/2014 Friendly Leipzig 4 – 2 PSG Ongenda 10’

Conclusion & Betting Tips

The little kid inside us would love to see Leipzig win this one, especially as it potentially sets up an all-German final against the mighty Munich. The coronavirus pandemic has been unkind to the German minnows, losing the highly impressive Timo Werner to a Chelsea transfer while the competition was still on. Despite this setback, the plucky Germans still managed to beat the highly fancied Atletico Madrid, two wins away from history?

This PSG team looks like a team we would assemble on Football Manager with the money cheat active. Neymar (199.80m), Kylian Mbappé (121.50m), Edinson Cavani (58.05m), Ángel Di María (56.70m) and Mauro Icardi (£45m) to name just a few. Despite the obvious talent on display, the French champs will be nervous, though, with memories of previous failures still fresh in their minds.

Head or heart is the question. The head tells us this is a step too far for the Germans and the pure quality on display will be the difference, the stage is set for Neymar. If that’s the case, a 3-1 win for PSG seems likely (11/1). The heart would love to see Leipzig win; a shock 2-1 win would net you £130 on a £10 bet @ bet365 (12/1).