Leipzig has bounced back from dropping their first two UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group F games to remain in the running to advance to the Round of 16 of this competition for the third time.
They could even guarantee their progression if Celtic were to defeat Shakhtar Donetsk in Glasgow if they were to avenge their 2-0 loss away to Real Madrid in the reverse matchup of this group stage.
Leipzig should have plenty of confidence after pulling off a thrilling three-goal comeback at Augsburg to draw 3-3 at the weekend and extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games (W5, D2), despite failing to avoid their worst 11-game start to a Bundesliga season. They are in good position thanks to their five straight victories at home since their costly 1-4 UCL loss to Shakhtar at home. The sad passing of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz over the weekend also serves as motivation to rise to the challenge.
Real Madrid will be eager to do so as group champions, building on their streak of six consecutive UCL games without dropping a point (W5, D1). Real Madrid has already secured their place beyond the group stage for a 26th consecutive season. After defeating Sevilla 3-1 at the weekend to maintain their healthy lead at the top of La Liga, manager Carlo Ancelotti had no hesitation in further resting Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema for this clash.
The fringe players from the 23-man squad that do get a chance will still be expected to uphold Madrid’s excellent travelling record, though, as the Spanish champions have lost only one of their last ten UCL group stage away games (W7, D2), and are unbeaten across their last five European ties away to German opposition (W3, D2).
Players to watch: Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku could make another late impact with five of his last seven goals in all competitions falling after the 75th minute, while Vincius Jnior has netted between the 50th and 60th minute in three of Madrid’s last four UCL games played on foreign soil.
At least one goal has been scored after the 75th minute in Leipzig’s last seven UCL games (W4, D1, L2).
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