RB Leipzig v Atlético Madrid Thursday Champions League Quarter Finals Analysis.
The prognosis might have been very different had Leipzig met Atlético in March, when the quarter-finals were supposed to be played. Back then Atlético looked out of sorts, struggling with yet another season of attempted transition to a supposedly more progressive approach, while RB Leipzig still had Timo Werner.
Five months later Atlético are buoyed by finishing their domestic season in fine form, winning seven and drawing four of their final 11 games to claim third in the league and qualification for the Champions League next season, something that was by no means assured when lockdown began.
And having eliminated Liverpool, the defending champions, in the last 16, and progressed further than Real Madrid, their bêtes noires in this tournament, for the first time since 1996-97, there’s no reason for them not to believe this could be their year – providing, that is, the two positive Covid tests don’t presage a wider problem. The one-legged format may play into their hands as well, given there is probably no coach better at game management than Diego Simeone.
Leipzig have been hugely impressive this season, both domestically – where they ended up being undone by too many draws – and in Europe. Their demolition of Tottenham in the last 16 suggested them as a realistic outsider to win the tournament itself.
But that was with Werner. That he has been allowed to move to Chelsea before the end of the season is a disgrace, yet another example of modern football’s prioritisation of money. There is still enough firepower in this Leipzig side to trouble Atlético, particularly with Patrik Schick back in form, but Emil Forsberg, who presumably will take Werner’s place on the left of the front three, does not offer the same threat.
Prediction Comfortable Atlético win.