The expert's view: RB Leipzig's dangermen
Manchester United welcome RB Leipzig to Old Trafford for our first home match in Group H of the UEFA Champions League.
In order to become more familiar with our opponents, German football expert Raphael Honigstein has put together a list of four players to look out for when the match kicks off at the Theatre of Dreams, at 20:00 GMT on Wednesday...
DAYOT UPAMECANO, THE TECHNICAL DEFENDER
“Leipzig have started the season very well defensively, rarely conceding, and a big part of that’s been Upamecano’s form in the centre. He’s an obvious one to pick out because he caught the eye of many clubs in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League, but even before that there were a lot of people who watch German football raving about him.
“He attracted a lot of interest from other clubs, including Arsenal, during the summer and it’s no surprise; for his age [he turned 22 on Tuesday] he’s so evolved already. He’s so good in his positioning, his physical attributes are incredible, he’s got great technique and a real eye for a pass out from the back too – he really has everything you’d want in a centre-back.”
MARCEL SABITZER, THE COMMANDING CAPTAIN
“I really like Sabitzer, Leipzig’s captain. He didn’t play in the matchday one victory over Istanbul Basaksehir because he was recovering from an injury, but the suggestion is that he’ll be back to feature at Old Trafford and that will make a big difference to Leipzig’s game. He’s your classic box-to-box player who can really do everything, which was probably best highlighted when he scored an amazing goal against Zenit Saint Petersburg in last season’s group stage.
“He also stepped into the spotlight in the second round last season when he scored twice against Spurs to seal Leipzig’s spot in the quarter-finals. He’s just a great player who’s really enjoyable to watch in action. He’s a real figure of authority, a real leader of his team and Leipzig will be desperate for him to be involved this evening.”
DANI OLMO, THE HYBRID ATTACKER
“Right now, he’s one of Leipzig’s most in-form players. Olmo has had an interesting career so far because he left Barcelona at a very young age to play for Dinamo Zagreb, but the move paid off because he’s now a full Spanish international and he was snapped up by Leipzig last January.
“He’s a hybrid player; not really a wide player, not really a no.10, more of something in-between, and I think initially he took a bit of time to find his position and his role within the team. Now that Leipzig often play without a centre-forward, however, he gets more game time, has more responsibility to do stuff and I think he’s thrived as a result of that.”
YUSSUF POULSEN, THE NEW SPEARHEAD
“The sale of Timo Werner to Chelsea meant Leipzig went into this season without a real star in the team and without a focal point in attack, but Poulsen has taken on that role of the team’s main striker. He has been at the club longer than anybody else in the squad and he’s a real team player. He does an awful lot of work up front, to the point where he’s almost playing a defensive role high up the field.
“He’s very unselfish and gives so much for the team, but he is also a goal threat. He recently scored a wonder goal against Augsburg in the Bundesliga and comes into this Champions League game in good form.”
JULIAN NAGELSMANN, THE MANAGER
“Everywhere he’s been as a manager – be it Hoffenheim or Leipzig – Nagelsmann has shown that he
can improve players, improve teams and win at the same time, so he’s got the holy trinity of coaching attributes. That he’s doing it at just 33 years old makes him extra special, but that’s not the reason clubs employ him. He’s able to connect with players and improve them. He does everything very
“He’s incredibly ambitious too. He has spoken about winning the Bundesliga with Leipzig, which they have never done before, and it’s typical of him to have such a strong target in mind. With so many clubs interested in him, the only question is whether he’ll outgrow Leipzig and need to join a bigger club to fulfil his ambition of winning trophies.”