RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid: Match preview

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After ensuring a comfortable 4-0 victory against Girona and going 5 points clear at the top of the table, Real Madrid travel to Germany, to face Leipzig for the 1st leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

Match details:

Date: Tuesday, 13th February 2024
Competition: UEFA Champions League
Matchday: Round of 16, 1st leg
Time: 22:00 CEST
Venue: Red Bull Arena

Match preview:

A brace from Jude Bellingham and goals from the Brazilian duo of Vinícius and Rodrygo capped off a stellar performance by the European giants, in what was expected to be a much tougher fixture.

The win not only kept Real Madrid at the top of the table but also kept them 5, 10, and 13 points ahead of Girona, FC Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

The club will now have to shift their attention to a competition they have a habit of winning. They begin the Champions League knockouts against RB Leipzig, who finished the group stage with 12 points behind Manchester City.

As far as the Bundesliga is concerned, the German side’s attack has been impressive, scoring 46 goals in 21 games – an average of 2.19 per game – out of which 28 have been scored at home.

Loïs Openda has been the wrecker in chief as the young Belgian has been the team’s top scorer in the league and Champions League, scoring 19 goals in 30 games. Benjamin Šeško and Xavi Simons are other players who have been impressive on the attacking front.

Defensively, the German side has been good at times but can be broken down and prove to be vulnerable against a strong forward line. Evidently, they conceded 6 goals over two games against Manchester City.

The Real Madrid attack has been in form lately and the Leipzig defense has to be at their best to prevent the Spanish side from scoring.

On the other hand, as far as Madrid’s defense for this game is concerned, Carlo Ancelotti may give a nod to Andriy Lunin in goal due to a string of good performances even though the Italian has preferred Kepa in the Champions League.

With Nacho’s return, Dani Carvajal would return to his natural position. Tchouamèni would be Nacho’s partner in defense as Carlo may not take a risk in starting a young center-back for such an important fixture. Ferland Mendy’s defensive capabilities may lead to him starting as the left back.

The midfield for this game may be the same which started against Girona, that is of Eduardo Camavinga, Fede Valverde, and Toni Kroos. However, a place for the age-defying Luka Modrić is not ruled out.

Jude Bellingham is ruled out for 2-3 weeks – next 4 games – and, according to Diario AS, the Englishman was “one inch away” from suffering a very bad ankle injury which would have kept him out for 2 months.

The best replacement for him would arguably be Brahim Díaz who has impressed when given a chance. Arda Güler may feature in the 2nd half at the same position as well.

Vinícius has been in sublime form since the start of the year with 6 goals and 3 assists in the last 6 games. His performance against Girona was one of his best performances in a Real Madrid shirt.

In Bellingham’s absence, the onus will be on Vinícius and Rodrygo to contribute to the goals. Rodrygo has also returned to form after a goal drought and will look to continue his scoring form in a competition he loves.

With multiple injuries this season, Ancelotti must be applauded with the way he has managed the team, having been defeated just twice this entire season.

But the difficult part of the season begins tonight, and the Italian would want his players to continue their form and extend the unbeaten run in a competition they are well aware of knowing how to win.

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