Berlin, Germany | THE INDEPENDENT | A confident RB Leipzig claims to be well prepared for their crucial Champions League encounter against Manchester United.
Julian Nagelsmann said his squad has come out of the 3-3 Bundesliga draw against Bayern Munich and is on its way to making up for the loss of its most successful striker, Timo Werner, who is now at Chelsea.
The RB coach said the decisive group match against the Premier League club is going to be a challenging mind game. “Considering that fact, it’s all in our hands and gives us a lot of motivation. It’s our final,” the 33-year-old added.
After losing the away game 5-0, they have to beat United if they are to advance to the last 16 of this year’s competition.
Nagelsmann claimed his team has understood that the whole team has to pull together if it is to close the gap after the German international Werner left for the Blues last summer.
The 24-year-old’s departure means nothing less than it has to make up for 48 scorer points (34 goals/14 assists).
“We are seeing that the team is gradually filling the gap left by Timo,” Leipzig’s managing director Markus Kroesche commented.
The number of goals scored by strikers has increased (53 percent to 48 last season) while the total amount of goals per game has gone down from 2.27 goals per game to only 2.
Simultaneously, only 9 goals against them in the national league stand for a well-oiled defense.
New arrivals such as Justin Kluivert and Alexander Sorloth’s latest improvements are backing up the performances of established strikers such as Emil Forsberg, Dani Olmo, Christopher Nkunku, and Yussuf Poulsen.
Without Werner, Leipzig’s game approach has changed into a more mature strategy, as Nagelsmann put it.
“We have learned to manage games better as we pay more respect to the entire team’s defensive approach,” the Leipzig coach said.
Without the help of Werner’s speed and dribbling skills, “all 11 on-field players need to act together in one piece.”
The ban for Dayot Upamecano might make things more complicated, but Nagelsmann claimed his side has moved on to an advanced level.
“We could have gone for the victory in Munich and the lead in the Bundesliga, but the team was clever enough to consider the upcoming challenge against United.”
The Leipzig coach sees a “mental advantage” for his squad as the favourites of Manchester are unexpectedly in danger of missing their target after their home loss against Paris.
Facing United and Paris in their group forced last season’s Champions League semifinal participant Leipzig into the role of an underdog.
The RB manager is convinced that counting on the mental aspects is going to pay off. “We will enter the game with a positive attitude,” he said before adding: “The team doesn’t feel tired after the energy-sapping schedule. They act like machines driven by the perspective of making it to the next round.”
The upswing of Forsberg and Poulsen is evidence of Leipzig’s robustness, he claimed.
Both, Nagelsmann said, have gone through the season without any injuries and are having quite possibly their best season ever in the RB shirt.
The attacking duo is aware of the team’s grown quality and their new role as the leaders up front having to replace Timo Werner.