Like yesterday’s match between Atalanta and PSG, today’s match between RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid is another battle of youth vs experience.
RB Leipzig was a club founded in 2009 and have only been in the Bundesliga since 2016. This is their first year in the Champions League knockout round and have made the most of it, taking out the defending UCL runner-ups in Tottenham Hotspur. Star striker Timo Werner scored their only goal in leg one to give Leipzig a 1-0 road win.
Their second leg saw their return home as they dominated the Spurs 3-0, winning the series 4-0. Midfielder Marcel Sabitzer scored twice and leftback Angelino controlled the pace as Leipzig advanced to the UCL quarterfinals.
Werner will not be in the lineup for Leipzig as he is settling in with his new club, Chelsea.
They will face Atletico Madrid, a club that shocked everyone and defeated Liverpool, the defending UCL champions in the round of 16 in extra time. Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time to give Atletico a rare victory at Anfield as they won 4-2 on aggregate.
Long-time striker Antoine Griezmann (transferred to Barcelona last year) is gone but they still have a dependable front line with Llorente, Diego Costa and young phenom Joao Felix. The strength of the club is their backline and goalkeeper Jan Oblak. They had an amazing defensive game plan against Liverpool, limiting the flow and the rhythm of the attack. Oblak was a brick wall vs Liverpool as he made 10 saves in the second leg.
Under manager Diego Simeone since 2014, Atletico Madrid has reached the UCL knockout round every year except 2018 (won the Europa League after being eliminated in the group stage) and each time, they were eliminated by Cristiano Ronaldo. Last year, Atletico lost 3-2 to Juventus as Ronaldo scored a hat-trick. This year, Atletico does not have to deal with Ronaldo as Juventus was eliminated last week by Lyon.
Atletico has a chance to finally capture that elusive UCL championship without Ronaldo in the picture. They should handle Leipzig, a club without their best scorer. It was a great run for Leipzig but Atletico is the more experienced club and should take care of business.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2 RB Leipzig 0