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Champions League – What PSG must remember from the qualification of Leipzig


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Thomas Tuchel and Paris Saint-Germain had a lot to take away from the performance of RB Leipzig, who will be their opponents in the semi-finals after eliminating Atlético Madrid. His game, his evolution, his faults: here is everything the champion of France must have in mind before the shock, next Tuesday.

Since Lyon, Leipzig has changed a lot

We are sure not to be mistaken in talking about a team which discovered the Bundesliga only four years ago: Leipzig is evolving quickly. Since last December and the German club’s visit to Lyon (2-2), Julian Nagelsmann’s team has progressed. Faced with very experienced Colchoneros who had a lot to scare them, the Lipsiens showed confidence, control and commitment. This is the paw of the young German coach, heir to Jürgen Klopp and follower of gegenpressing. It is also the logical continuation: many very inexperienced players in C1 have enormously grown in maturity in recent months.

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A confrontation similar to that of Atalanta?

An offensive, ambitious, enjoyable game… Do you have a feeling of déjà vu? The philosophy developed by Leipzig is actually reminiscent of that of Atalanta, which Paris Saint-Germain eliminated Wednesday night (2-1). With a few nuances: the Rasenballsport is able to go much faster forward, and the intensity it injects in counter-pressing is probably even higher. This is also a quality that Paris Saint-Germain has often struggled to stifle, including against the Dea.

Yussuf Poulsen and Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig)

Credit: Imago

More qualities but more exposure

It is an absolute obviousness but it must all the same be noted: the RB Leipzig has the defect of its qualities. Once again, Nagelsmann’s team paid for the intensity with big air pockets. Like against Lyon nine months ago. And as in the Bundesliga during the post-pandemic recovery. Its offensive ambitions are born from an ultra-high defensive line on the ground and therefore open up enormous counter opportunities that the Parisians can, for sure, better exploit than the timid Madrilenians. As soon as he entered, Joao Felix demonstrated that technical ease above the norm could pose real problems for the German collective. In this area, Paris has the world reference with Neymar. Also, the young Lipsienne could offer loopholes to the champion of France, in particular in the weak times, that the RBL had great difficulty to apprehend vis-a-vis the Colchoneros.

Werner’s departure was compensated

PSG had faced Atalanta without one of its strong elements, namely Josip Illicic. He is preparing to challenge RB Leipzig without the one who was his best player a few weeks ago: Timo Werner. The German striker was transferred to Chelsea and his departure was not compensated by a rookie (the German club did not have the right in C1 anyway) but by the game. Yussuf Poulsen is now alone in the ‘axis and plays an essential role for the fluidity of the offensives. More comfortable in the body game than technically, the Dane is a precious point of support. Both to initiate the counter, but also to serve as a relay for the many permutations of the side players. With him, Julian Nagelsmann’s men are able to move very quickly from one side to the other. This is what allowed them to open the scoring, this Thursday evening, against Atlético.

Upamecano is the key

Dayot Upamecano can do it all. The young French defender is an essential cog in Nagelsmann’s tactics. First raiser, libero capable of bringing surplus in the axis when necessary, the former player of Salzburg is also and above all a formidable defender. In Lisbon, he muzzled the indomitable Diego Costa, like a grown-up. We can therefore imagine that he is able to do the same with Mauro Icardi. Defensively, midfielders will have a major role to play in preventing him from building. Offensively, the Parisian attack will have to vary the registers in order to destabilize it. With Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappé or Neymar, she will have plenty to do.

Dayot Upamecano (Leipzig)

Credit: Getty Images

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