The top clubs in Europe return to Champions League action in a few weeks, and we’ll be previewing a lot of the matches over the next month. The Round of 16 kicks off with leg one action, continuing on February 19.
Up next in our series of previews is German club RB Leipzig from Group G traveling to England to face off against group C runner up, Tottenham Hotspur. RB Leipzig comes from a league-leading position while Tottenham and manager, Jose Mourinho, have a lot to prove after slowly rebuilding from fourteenth in the Premier League.
Here’s a look at the clubs:
RB Leipzig (Germany)
RB Leipzig finds itself currently situated in first place in the Bundesliga. They are two points ahead of traditional powerhouse Bayern Munich (who has played one fewer game). Leipzig has the fewest losses suffered of any team in the league and has a very healthy (+31) goal differential. They have the best away form (and third-best home form) of any team in the league at this point. Leipzig scores one-half goal per game more at home versus away games (2.8 to 2.3). Their home and away concessions are almost exactly the same at just over one per game.
RB Leipzig advanced from Group G by winning the group with 11 points. This is the fewest points won by any group stage champion. Surprisingly Leipzig has been markedly better on the road than at home, which is something we also saw in the Bundesliga. When playing in home games in the Champions League, they scored 1.3 goals per game while allowing 1.6. While away they scored twice the amount they conceded for an average of 2 goals scored and one allowed.
Players to Watch:
Timo Werner: Werner has been on absolute fire this year in the Bundesliga. He’s scored 20 goals in 22 appearances, and if that’s not enough of a contribution he’s added six assists. His importance to the team is evidenced by his eight Man of the Match wins (of the 18 won by the team). He’s continued to (co)lead was he team in scoring with three goals in six appearances as well as an assist. Leipzig is also unbeaten in Champions League games when Werner scores.
Emil Forsberg: Forsberg has been limited to less than half of the minutes played by Werner. His production in the Bundesliga has been limited to four goals and two assists. However, he is the joint top scorer in the Champions League with three goals and three assists, despite starting only five of the six matches.
Konrad Laimer: Laimer has been a defensive stalwart for Leipzig appearing in 20 of the team’s 22 games. Like the rest of the team, Laimer has been much better on the road. In road games, he averages 1.5 interceptions per game to go along with almost four tackles. He’s averaging almost 3 tackles per game at home but only half of the interceptions. However, for some reason, he’s playing so much better at home in Champions League games, to the tune of six tackles and an interception per game.
Tottenham Hotspur (England)
Following a fourth-place finish last season, Tottenham has endured a season that’s seen the team fall as low as the fourteenth position. A managerial change has seen them return to sixth in the league, but at substantial cost, with club captain and leading-scorer Harry Kane going down with a season-ending injury on New Year’s Day. Tottenham’s recent form has been very marginal with two wins, two draws, and two losses in their last six. Since the managerial change, the number of goals scored by the team has dropped, although they have been better defensively.
Tottenham’s Champions League form has not been ideal to face one of the hotter clubs in Europe right now. They finished runners up in their group with three wins, a draw, and two losses. At Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they are averaging 3.3 goals scored in the champions league and 2.3 goals scored in away games. They have allowed an average of three goals allowed at home (inflated by the seven goals they gave up to Bayern Munich at home) and 1.6 goals per game away from home. If Tottenham wants to take something away from this home match, they will need to do far better than they have thus far.
Players to Watch:
Son Heung-Min: Since the exit of Christian Eriksen and the subsequent injury of Harry Kane, Son is the big man on campus. He’s contributed seven goals and seven assists. In the Champions League, he’s added five goals and an assist in six games. If Tottenham is to advance in this tournament it will be on the back of Son. Son is not used to being the focal point of the opponent and he’ll face a struggle.
Serge Aurier: Aurier has been another defensive stalwart for Tottenham in the Premier League, however, Aurier has faced some injury struggles (along with most of the Tottenham defense). When Aurier has played, he’s played very well and has contributed a goal and an assist in the Champions League. Tottenham needs to find some goal scorers, and while Aurier is not likely to take over the scoring mantle; he provides a number of crosses and key passes to help the club build.
Lucas Moura: Moura stepped in at times last season when Kane went out injured. He scored 10 goals for the club last season when he was stepped in for the injured striker. Despite appearing in 23 games (and four Champions League games) he’s only added four goals this season. In the Champions League, he’s scored one goal and one added an assist but I expect that without Kane and Eriksen, he and Dele Alli will need to step up in a big way.
What to Expect:
Last Updated: February 16, 2020