RB Leipzig vs PSG
Estadio dos Sporto Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon
Tuesday, 18-08-2020 @10pm
Ref: Borjan Kuipers (Holland)
Under-dogs RB Leipzig will be hoping to continue their dream Champions League campaign when they take on star-studded PSG on Wednesday night.
It has been a spectacular season for Leipzig. Under Julian Nagelsmann, they finished third in the Bundesliga while topping Group G of the UEFA Champions League ahead of Lyon, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg. Die Roten Bullen eased past Tottenham Hotspur in the Round of 16, with a 4-0 aggregate scoreline.
They then went on to eliminate Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, beating them 2-1 courtesy goals from Dani Olmo and Tyler Adams.
Making a semi-final appearance for the first time ever in the club’s history, they will be aiming to go all the way in the competition.
PSG, too, have enjoyed another dominant campaign domestically, while also showing signs of progressing on the continental stages. Thomas Tuchel’s men won their group, which included Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray, quite comfortably. But they were made to work hard by Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 stage.
Drawn up against Atalanta in the quarter-finals, it seemed like history would repeat itself again as PSG trailed the Italians until the 90th minute. But stoppage time goals from Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting meant Les Parisiens pulled off a miraculous comeback to qualify for the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 1994/95.
Nagelsmann will be unable to call upon defender Ibrahima Konate, who is recovering from a hip problem. New signings Hwang Hee-chan and Benjamin Henrichs have arrived at the club, but are ineligible to feature. The manager is unlikely to make a lot of changes to the side that got past Atletico Madrid last time out.
Peter Gulacsi is the undisputed starter in goal for Leipzig. He will be shielded by a three-man backline comprising of Lukas Klostermann, Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Halstenberg.
Manchester City loanee Angelino is a certain starter as the left wing-back, while Tyler Adams, who scored the winning goal last time out, may be rewarded with a start as the right wing-back, with his selection coming at the expense of Konrad Laimer.
Marcel Sabitzer and Kevin Kampl ought to be the two central midfielders. The latter will look to break up PSG from building up play, while the former will be given the license to push forward and support the attacking midfield duo of Christopher Nkunku, who will be playing against his former club, and Dani Olmo.
With Timo Werner gone, Yussuf Poulsen is likely to get the nod as the lone centre-forward, although Patrik Schick is pushing for a starting berth as well.
PSG have been dealt a major blow as goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss the semi-finals after coming off with an injury in the game against Atalanta. Elsewhere, the French champions will also be without key midfielder Marco Verratti, who missed the last game as well.
Laywin Kurzawa is also absent for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Much like his opposite number, Tuchel also is likely to keep changes to the side at a bare minimum. With Navas out injured, Sergio Rico is expected to slot in as the goalkeeper. He will seek protection from a backline comprising of Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat as the full-backs, with Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe at the centre.
Marquinhos has been largely used in the No. 6 role by the manager and that is unlikely to change on Tuesday night. The Brazilian will be helped in the defensive phase of the game by Idrissa Gueye, while Ander Herrera will provide the industry in the centre of the park.
Kylian Mbappe made a substitute appearance against Atalanta after having recovered from an injury. The Frenchman should be in line for a start on the right flank, while fellow star forward Neymar should feature on the left. Mauro Icardi will lead the line for PSG, with the likes of Pablo Sarabia and Angel Di Maria providing options from the bench.
This will be the first ever competitive meeting between RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain. Both RB Leipzig and PSG are aiming to reach their first ever Champions League/European Cup final.
PSG have progressed from each of their three previous European knockout ties against German opposition, including in the ongoing season, when they eliminated Borussia Dortmund at the Round of 16 stage. RB Leipzig are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League matches (W5 D2), after having lost four of their first eight in the competition (W3 D1). PSG forward Kylian Mbappe has bee directly involved in 10 goals in 8 Champions League appearances this season (5 goals and assists each).
The other Champions League semi final
Wednesday, 19-0-2020 @10pm
-Olympique Lyon vs Bayern Munich