Experience against youth. The old master against the new blood. Mourinho against the ‘mini Mou’. 32-year-old Nagelsmann is leading the ‘new gen’ of top coaches, and his approach is the epitome of the one that is dominating football nowadays. By contrast, Mourinho will need to prove that his football is not old-fashioned and that few know to compete in Europe like him. Leipzig have lost the top spot of the Bundesliga to Bayern and this will be their first appearance ever in this stage of the competition. Meanwhile, Tottenham are last year’s runners-up and are in a 3-game winning streak.
This fixture will be greatly conditioned by the absences. Without Upamecano, Orban and Konaté, the Red Bull club has no natural centre-backs, except for Ampadu, who has still not registered a single start for them. Halstenberg, Klostermann and Mukiele are usually used there in a back 5 despite being natural full-backs. Regarding Spurs, Son has joined Kane as another long-term injured star. Without them and Eriksen, Lucas Moura may be the false 9 and Bergwijn, Dele Alli and Lo Celso the mediapuntas.
It will be an entertaining duel of rhythms. I expect Mou to use a more reactive plan, with a lower block, Tanganga as an extra defender, and conceding no spaces, which the Germans thrive in. As Nagelsmann may switch to a 4–3–3, Dani Olmo could be starting. Timo Werner is the star, with 25 goals and 10 assists in 31 games this season. Him, Schick, Nkunku and maybe Olmo could exploit the gaps behind the double pivot of Winks and Dier, Ndombélé or Lo Celso. Through the individualities and the strategies, both teams will surely find ways to surprise each other.
P o s s i b l e X I s
T o t t e n h a m
Aurier · Alderweireld · Davinson · Tanganga
Dier · Winks
Lo Celso · Dele Alli · Bergwijn
R B L e i p z i g
Mukiele · Klostermann · Halsternberg · Angeliño
Sabitzer · Laimer · Nkunku
Dani Olmo · Schick · Werner