RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid: Staunch Spaniards can squeeze into the semis

In an intriguing clash of styles, RB Leipzig take on Atletico Madrid in Thursday night's Champions League quarter-final showdown. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds...

RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid
Thursday August 13, 20:00
BT Sport

RB Leipzig without two key components

RB Leipzig are in unprecedented waters. The Bundesliga club have reached their first-ever Champions League quarter-final after sweeping Spurs aside with consummate ease during the Last 16. Die Rotten Bullen ran out convincing 4-0 victors with highly-rated head coach Julian Nagelsmann becoming the youngest to manage (and win) a UCL knockout tie.

Despite Leipzig's standout performances over the two legs against Tottenham, the Saxony side suffered from a serious bout of inconsistency during domestic matters in 2020. RB had led the Bundesliga table at the turn of the year, but failed to take top honours in 10 of their final 17 league outings following the winter break to drop out of Meisterschale contention.

A seven-week absence without competitive football is a concern for Leipzig backers, as is the loss of star striker Timo Werner. The speedster weighed in with 28 of Die Rotten Bullen's 81 Bundesliga goals and signed for Chelsea this summer; fellow forward Yussuf Poulsen is also unavailable through injury, losses that will undoubtedly hurt RB's attack.

Atletico find form since February

Atletico Madrid posted their lowest La Liga points tally since 2011/12 this term although Diego Simeone's side were still able to seal an eighth successive top-three finish in Spain. Los Colchoneros suffered identity crisis in the early swathes of the season following a large turnover of players last summer but impressively recovered, particularly from February.

Returning to their tried-and-trusted 4-4-2 system, the capital club ousted Premier League champions Liverpool over two legs as part of an 18-game unbeaten streak (W10-D8-L0) to conclude the campaign. Over the course of the season, Atletico churned out an enormous 22 clean sheets across all competitions, whilst also suffering only four La Liga defeats.

Preparations for Thursday night's fixtures were hampered following two positive COVID-19 tests in the squad over the weekend. Sime Vrsaljko and Angel Correa were subsequently confirmed as the players involved with the pair both now isolating at home and unavailable for selection, leaving Simeone with a reduced 21-man squad for the trip to Portugal.

Spaniards fair favourites in Lisbon

Unsurprisingly, the Estadio Jose Alvalade clash will be the first competitive encounter between the two teams, but it's also Leipzig's first taste of continental competition with a Spanish side. Meanwhile, Atletico have proven victories in all their Champions League or European Cup ties with German opposition, bar the 1974 final against Bayern Munich.

RB Leipzig 3.30 have enjoyed a solid Champions League campaign, finishing top of Group G before crushing Spurs in their first knockout contest. But the Germans came through a soft section and their task with Tottenham was made easier by the absence of both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. Julian Nagelsmann's outfit are understandable outsiders in 90 minutes.

Atletico 2.52 have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the fifth time in seven seasons. Los Colchoneros are renowned for their resilience and defensive organisation, making the Spaniards tricky customers. The COVID-19 scare apart, Diego Simeone's side have been in fine form since the break and will prove devilishly difficult to beat.

Keep Atleti onside in tight tussle

A curious clash of styles awaits in Lisbon. RB Leipzig prefer to play front-foot, high-pressing football, although the Bundesliga boys won't have encountered opponents quite like Atletico during their domestic duties. Nevertheless, Die Rotten Bullen have displayed an ability to sit back and see when encountering elite opposition.

Leipzig held Bayern Munich to home and away draws, as well as picking up a point against Dortmund. In those three fixtures, Julian Nagelsmann's troops produced a more reserved display, preferring to play on the counter, and happy to cede possession. A similar approach could be utilised against an Atleti outfit that doesn't always relish taking the initiative.

With that in mind, plus Atletico Madrid's penchant for keeping contests close, Under 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.71 quotes. Six of the Spaniards' eight outings in the Champions League this term have featured fewer than three goals and it therefore makes sense to side with Diego Simeone's side in the Double Chance market, as well as opposing a goal-heavy game.

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