Tottenham have managed to largely salvage a season which was going down the tubes but they could face a real battle to stay in the Champions League in the shape of Red Bull Leipzig and the visitors could leave their mark tonight.
Leipzig – who were making their debut in the fifth tier of German football just a decade ago – have completed a remarkable rise to Europe’s top tier and they’re packing a punch in the Bundesliga this season too. They were leading the Bundesliga until a three game winless run – combined with a three game winning streak for Bayern saw them drop to second, but the only real below-par performance came when they lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt. On the other two occasions saw RB comeback from 2-0 down to come away with a point and the other was away to Bayern Munich.
Things returned to normal with a 3-0 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday when Lukas Klostermann, Patrik Schick, and Nordi Mukiele sealed the game before the break, allowing them to coast in preparation for their trip this weekend.
Tottenham have managed to put together a good run of form recently – their last defeat came against Liverpool over a month ago and a run of three straight Premier League wins has seen them take fifth place in the Premier League, a position that could well result in Champions League football next season given the Man City predicament.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side have been dealt a blow that could easily ruin the rest of their season after losing Heung Min-Son to an arm fracture. Son filled in superbly for the absence of Harry Kane last season and had been doing so again, with two goals including a last minute winner against Aston Villa at the weekend, the winner against Southampton in their FA Cup replay, their second goal against Manchester City, their only goal against Southampton in the original tie, and the winner against Norwich the week before that.
His loss – especially with Kane out – is a huge absence and whilst Steven Bergwijn has made an impressive impact since his debut, this leaves Spurs with two of their best three attackers – and robs them of their integration with Dele Alli, who has linked up well with Bergwijn so far but now must take even more attacking responsibility.
Tottenham Hotspur v RB Leipzig
UEFA Champions League Last-16 1st Leg
20:00 BT Sport 2 / BT Sport Ultimate HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, since 2010)
First meeting between sides
The other worry for Spurs is their defence. Jose Mourinho has managed to rejuvenate their attack but defensively Spurs haven’t been right all season and their only clean sheet in their last five games came against Manchester City when City won the shot count 19-3 and the corner count 6-2, but ended up losing 2-0 after Oleksandr Zinchenko had been dismissed for a second yellow card and Ilkay Gundogan had seen a first-half penalty saved by Hugo Lloris.
And if there’s one quality Leipzig have, it’s the ability to take advantage of any weaknesses in the Spurs defence. Star Striker Timo Werner has 20 Bundesliga goals and six assists in 21 appearances along with three goals in the group stage and he makes a fearsome attacking duo with Marcel Sabitzer (who has scored 12 goals in all competitions) and the presence of new signings Dani Olmo and Emil Forsberg means Julian Nagelsmann has a huge amount of attacking options to take on Jose Mourinho with and this could be the ideal time for Leipzig to strike.
Leipzig scored twice on the road in all three of their Champions League group games whilst Spurs conceded in two of their group stage games – the only exception being against Red Star – so there could be value in backing the 2-1 correct score.
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