Atleti are slight favorites to go through
Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig will host Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid on Thursday for a berth in the Champions League semi-finals.
Diego Simeone will be hoping his Atletico Madrid side could draw inspiration from their last round’s victory over reigning Champions Liverpool when it faces another attack-minded team in Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig on Thursday.
Los Rojiblancos’ form since the resumption of football in June makes them the favorites to go all the way in this season’s Champions League, especially given the fact that the one-legged format of the knockout stages suits the defensive-minded approach of their manager.
Atleti scored only 31 goals in 27 games before the lockdown but have managed to overturn their goalscoring woes by managing 20 goals in 11 games since. Their rock-solid defense, which let in 27 goals in 38 La Liga games this season, is yet another factor that makes the Spaniards favorites for the tie.
RB Leipzig’s form this season has been the reverse of the side they will be hosting on Thursday. Die Rotten Bullen were challenging for the title before the lockdown but had to settle for a distant 3rd place finish after seeing their form regress after it. They’d be eager to turn their recent average form around.
Both the players are currently self-isolating at home and might be available for selection if Atleti gets the better of Leipzig on Thursday. Atleti might feel the absence of Correa more given that the Argentine had played in all 8 of the side’s games in the Champions League leading to this Thursday’s tie.
All other tests returned negative, thereby giving UEFA the freedom to let the match go-ahead as planned. It also means that these two absentees aside, the Spanish team will have a fully fit squad to choose from against Leipzig.
The German side will be without the services of Timo Werner after the striker refused to play for them in the latter stages of the competition in favor of securing a move to Chelsea. His absence might convince Nagelsmann to go with a front two of Patrik Schick and Yussuf Poulsen.
Despite the fact that they have now reached this stage 5 times in the last seven seasons, Atletico will only be slightly favorites to clinch the tie.
That is mainly because their Thursday’s opponents have made a habit of blowing teams away in this season’s Champions League. Leipzig have scored at least 2 goals in five of their last 6 Champions League games and would like to keep that streak going.
Atleti defenders would also have to be careful in their own final third given that only Atalanta have received more penalties (5) than Leipzig (4) this season in the Champions League, though the absence of Werner might make Leipzig less of a threat on Thursday.
Predicted RB Leipzig lineup vs Atletico Madrid: Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Laimer, Sabitzer, Angelino; Nkunku, Olmo; Schick
Predicted Atletico Madrid lineup vs RB Leipzig: Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Llorente, Partey, Saul, Koke; Felix, Costa
Prediction: RB Leipzig 0 – 1 Atletico Madrid
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