RB Leipzig went into the Red Bull Arena with a 1-0 lead after a dominating display in North London in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Tottenham Hotspur. This match was no different. Julian Nagelsmann’s men put in another fantastic performance, except this time the goals came with them. A 3-0 victory over last year’s finalists is a big statement win for the German side. Marcel Sabitzer scored a brace and his substitute replacement, Emil Forsberg, scored with his first touch to make it 3-0. Leipzig are going into their first-ever Champions League quarter-finals after years of building a formidable squad with a specific football philosophy.
As for Tottenham, they didn’t come to play at all. Injuries to key attackers such as Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn left them without any firepower in the final third. However, it was an all-around poor performance as Leipzig played them off the park. The match, while one-sided, has a few takeaways with future implications for the rest of the season and beyond.
Takeaways From Tottenham Hotspur’s Defeat to RB Leipzig
Giovani Lo Celso: Spurs’ Only Shining Light
As stated earlier, Tottenham were poor. There were no standout performances from the North London side, except for midfielder, Giovani Lo Celso. The Argentine carried the Spurs midfield, showing what he can do without any help.
Astonishingly, he finished the game with eight completed dribbles. This was a game-high, and double the amount of the second most dribbles in the game which was held by Lucas Moura with four. Lo Celso’s quick feet helped build multiple attacks for Tottenham.
Lo Celso clearly has talent. After an injury-riddled first few months of the season, he’s finally showing what has made him so popular at Real Betis. Daniel Levy and Jose Mourinho would be smart to build the midfield around the young ace as his game will only be elevated with a better system and better personnel around him.
RB Leipzig Are Not to Be Taken Lightly in the Champions League
Every season has an underdog team that defies the odds and makes it far in the Champions League. Spurs and Ajax were those teams last year. This year could be Leipzig’s year. Their performances in the Bundesliga have been impressive for years but this dominating display could be the catalyst of something more for them in Europe.
No matter who their opponent is in the next round, they should not be taken lightly. They’re more than capable of battling it out with Europe’s best including Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Paris Saint-Germain. Similar to how Ajax were last season, it would be foolish to count them out against any opponent in the next round.
Tottenham are not the best of opponents, especially this year. However, a 4-0 aggregate win against any side in the Champions League knockout rounds is not anything to scoff at.
Jose Mourinho Has Lost His Magical Champions League Touch
One of the biggest appeals around Jose Mourinho is his European pedigree. The Portuguese manager has won Champions League titles with both Porto and Inter Milan. On top of that, he has reached the semi-finals with Chelsea and Real Madrid on multiple occasions. Mourinho was a big game manager. Unfortunately for the ‘special one’, the magical European touch is long gone.
Mourinho’s last Champions League knockout tie victory came all the way back in the 2013/14 season. Chelsea eliminated PSG on away goals in the quarter-finals. Since then, Mourinho has lost three different round of 16 ties with three different teams. He lost to PSG while managing Chelsea, Sevilla while managing Manchester United, and now Leipzig while managing Spurs.
It’s not a hot take to state that Mourinho isn’t the same manager he once was. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do at Tottenham next season, which will likely be without Champions League football.