RB Leipzig meet Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday night's Champions League semi-final showdown from Lisbon. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds.
"The relative pragmatic opening periods exploded into life after the break as teams chased their way back into contests with 13 (68%) of the 18 quarter-final goals arriving after half-time"
RB Leipzig v PSG
Tuesday August 18, 20:00
RB Leipzig in unchartered territory
RB Leipzig overcame a typically cautious Atletico Madrid to reach their first Champions League semi-final just 11 years after their formation. The Bundesliga side were the only team playing progressive football in a first period of few clear-cut chances; Die Rotten Bullen were made to wait until five minutes after the interval before the deadlock.
Dani Olmo headed Julian Nagelsmann's men deservedly ahead but Atleti substitute Joao Felix levelled the tie from the spot after he had been fouled in the box. With the Spaniards seemingly content to take the one-legged tie to extra-time, Leipzig seized the initiative with Tyler Adams' decisive deflected strike two minutes from time settling proceedings.
RB Leipzig are now the first German side outside of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to reach the final-four of the Champions League since Schalke in 2010/11. And Nagelsmann was understandably overjoyed, saying: "We definitely were a little lucky with how we scored the winner. Still, we were the better team overall and we showed maturity. I can't remember many dangerous situations Atletico had."
PSG produce quarter-final late show
Paris St-Germain scored two late goals in a sensational comeback against Atalanta to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 25 years. A night of frustration for star forward Neymar looked set to ensure more continental disappointment for the French champions who trailed for well over an hour of the tie in Lisbon on Wednesday night.
However, the Brazilian superstar - who had earlier fluffed key opportunities - laid on a 90th-minute equaliser for Marquinhos and exhilarating substitute Kylian Mbappe teed up former Stoke striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to slide in the winner for Thomas Tuchel's team to cap an astonishing finale to the first one-legged quarter-final in the re-shaped competition.
Ultimately, Mbappe's introduction off the bench proved pivotal against tiring Atalanta legs and the speedster should now be fit enough to feature from the off here, with Angel Di Maria also returning from suspension. Central midfield ace Marco Verratti remains a major injury doubt but is Tuchel's only major selection concern coming into Tuesday night.
French side firm favourites
The semi-final showdown will be the first competitive encounter between the two teams, and the duo are both searching for a first-ever appearance in Europe's showpiece final. Curiously, head coaches Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel were both once youth team centre-backs for Augsburg and worked together coaching the club's reserves in 2007/08.
RB Leipzig [4.50] finished top of the tree in Group C before crushing Tottenham over two legs in their Last 16 contest. Die Rotten Bullen continued their memorable continental campaign by overcoming Atletico last week, a standout result that supersedes what was ultimately a disappointing conclusion to the club's Bundesliga title challenge this term.
PSG's [1.84] dominance of French football shows no sign of abating as Thomas Tuchel's team took top honours in the curtailed Ligue 1 campaign. Les Parisiens then returned from their long enforced break by completing the treble despite underwhelming in cup triumphs over Lyon and St-Etienne, before their momentous battle back against Atalanta last week.
Slow burner in-store?
RB Leipzig prefer to play front-foot, high-pressing football. Nevertheless, Die Rotten Bullen have also displayed an ability to sit back and see when encountering elite opposition.
Such an approach was evident when Leipzig held Bayern Munich to home and away draws, as well as picking up a point against Dortmund. In those three fixtures, Julian Nagelsmann's troops produced a more reserved display, containing and countering, whilst happy to cede possession. A similar system could be utilised against PSG's array of attacking assets.
Considering PSG have found the back of the net in 33 successive Champions League games dating back to April 2016, the pre-match favourites are expected to make the running. However, it might be taking a chance on the even-money available for the Second-Half to be the Highest Scoring Half, a selection that proved profitable in all four quarter-final ties.
The relative pragmatic opening periods soon exploded into life after the break as teams chased their way back into contests with 13 (68%) of the 18 quarter-final goals arriving after half-time, including eight of 10 when excluding the Bayern-Barcelona shootout. Chuck in the pressure of the occasion and warm Lisbon evening, and a slow burner could be in-store.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 186.00 pts
Returned: 207.09 pts
P/L: +21.09 pts