RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur
The 43,000 capacity Red Bull Arena will be packed to the rafters on Tuesday night as the final chapter of the Champions League tie between RB Leipzig and Tottenham is set to unfold.
The hosts come into the second leg with a one-goal advantage and the latest SBOTOP tips are backing the Red Bulls to finish the job against a Spurs side which is in patchy form.
RB Leipzig are at 1.18 to advance to the quarter-finals with Spurs at 4.57 after Timo Werner’s second-half penalty gave the Bundesliga title-chasers a well-deserved first-leg lead.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side are at 7.50 to reach the final of the competition, and it would be a surprise if Spurs can stop them making the last eight.
But Jose Mourinho is one of the best head coaches in the business when it comes to the big games. And with a Premier League top-four place looking increasingly unlikely, Jose may well be targeting this as a match to win.
Red Bulls’ striking options
The Spurs defence will come under attack on Tuesday night from a Leipzig team which has plundered 62 goals from 25 games and are up in third place in the Bundesliga.
But they drew a blank last time out away to Europa League-chasing Wolfsburg on Saturday, playing out a 0-0 draw despite sharing 30 shots in the game (16-14 to Wolfsburg).
Top scorer Timo Werner made a second-half appearance from the bench during the game, and he’ll be a major threat to Spurs’ hopes.
Die Roten Bullen are blessed with striking options that Mourinho would love to have at injury-hit Spurs. Emil Forsberg has three goals already in the competition, while Czech forward Patrik Schick, on loan from Roma, has made a big impact in the German league.
Add to those three names Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen and former Everton forward Ademola Lookman and Nagelsmann has plenty of options.
Lo Celso is Spurs’ biggest hope
Mourinho is lacking in such options. Long-term injuries to his best strikers in Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son have seriously damaged Spurs’ top-four hopes.
The Whites had lost four games on the run before a trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley on Saturday. And for 45 minutes, it looked like they were about to make it five when they went down to an early Chris Wood goal. But Jose made two half-time switches and they rallied in the second period to snatch a point.
He brought on Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso to transform his side’s performance. The big pre-match Champions League 2020 news will be Mourinho’s team selection, and I expect them both to start in Leipzig.
Lo Celso is starting to look like a player who might lift Spurs to higher levels; his dynamic running and eye for the killer pass led to the penalty which won a point at Turf Moor.
He has creative talent but also a dark side to his game, somehow escaping a red card for a horror tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta in the Whites’ recent defeat to Chelsea.
If he can channel that aggression and continue to make chances, then Spurs could yet have a good end to the season.
With Kane and Son both out long-term, Spurs are left with a situation where no one player has scored more than a single goal in the Champions League, though Lo Celso has bagged one.
Summer recruit Tanguy Ndombele has three assists in the competition, but he came in for some stinging criticism from his boss before being hooked at half time yesterday. Mourinho said: “I think somebody has to realise this is the Premier League, and this is a new experience, and the first time he comes to Burnley, and I hope next season he can be fantastic because until now it is not enough.”
But there’s good news for Spurs in the return from injury of goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, and he could be another man to get Spurs’ season back on track. He’s a big player for France, and Les Bleus will be keen to see him have a successful and injury-free end to the season.
Leipzig come into the game in the better form, unbeaten in six games and they haven’t lost in any of their last 11 home matches.
Spurs are without a win in five, in all competitions, but the second half in Burnley gives their fans cause for cautious optimism.
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