Tottenham have it all to do in their Champions League round of 16 tie after Timo Werner’s penalty handed RB Leipzig a deserved 1-0 lead in north London on Wednesday night
A rip-roaring start from the visitors saw Hugo Lloris forced into an early save, reacting quickly to Angelino’s effort and forcing the on-loan defender’s strike onto the post. It was the visitors who continued to dominate for the remainder of the half, with Timo Werner spurning a decent opportunity for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
Lucas Moura had the first chance of the second half, but it was Leipzig who would take the lead via Werner’s penalty. Ben Davies clearly fouled Konrad Laimer to hand the German the chance from 12 yards, and he made no mistake by firing low beyond Lloris.
Trying to force themselves back into the tie, Giovani Lo Celso came within inches of netting a superb equaliser after seeing his bending free kick tipped onto the post by the outstretched arm of Peter Gulasci.
Spurs continued to press but were unable to find a crucial leveler, and are now faced with a tough task on their hands as they make the return trip to Germany in three weeks’ time.
Key Talking Point
What cost would the absence of Heung-min Son and Harry Kane have on Tottenham’s approach to Wednesday’s clash? The answer: a significant one.
Without a focal point in attack, or someone to hold the ball up in the final third, Spurs struggled to create anything of note. Their approach was a more reactive than proactive one, where it seemed the inevitable goal that would come from RB Leipzig’s onslaught would force their hand as opposed to taking the bull by the horns themselves.
Operating as a 4-4-2 with Dele Alli up top and Gedson Fernandes on the right of midfield, the plan was clear. Soaking up pressure and relying on Lo Celso to craft an opening was all Spurs had going for them. Problem was though, it wasn’t working.
They were facing an outfit who were immensely organised, pressed relentlessly, and who you could forgiven for thinking were the home side based on Wednesday’s showing.
After conceding the goal, the dynamic in Spurs’ game shifted drastically. The question that bubbles up is: why not sooner? Goals change games, sure, but everyone watching on could foresee a Leipzig opener, so why sit back and wait for that to happen? An improvement followed, granted, but Spurs were asking for it from the off. Their Champions League aspirations have taken a massive dent.
Tottenham Player Ratings
Starting XI: Lloris (7); Aurier (6), Alderweireld (7), Sanchez (7), Davies (6); Winks (6), Fernandes (6), Lo Celso (8*), Alli (5), Bergwijn (5); Lucas (6).
Substitutes: Ndombele (7), Lamela (7).
Giovani Lo Celso
How often has this happened since he’s come into the side more regularly? Answer: 99% of the time.
Once again the standout player for Tottenham was Giovani Lo Celso, who was comfortably the the best player on the park in white. His passing was crisp throughout and, particularly in an uninspiring first half, was the one Spurs player who was trying conjure up some magic for his side.
Not only was he looking to carve open opportunities for his teammates, but if there was nothing on he was willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive at the RB Leipzig defence.
Lo Celso best player on the pitch by far
— Maid Of Tottenham (@MaidofTottenham) February 19, 2020
Imagine if we didn’t have Lo Celso he’s our best attacking, central and defensive midfielder ffs
— Tøm (@TomCOYS) February 19, 2020
Despite a brilliant team performance from RBL, Lo Celso has been the best player on the pitch. Great performance thus far.
— Aaron Moniz (@aaronmfootball) February 19, 2020
Key Talking Point
How good is the quality of the Bundesliga this season? Take one look at RB Leipzig’s performance in north London and the answer is very clear.
Only six points separate the top six in the division, and Wednesday’s visitors gave a fine example of themselves, showing immense composure and calmness on the ball that was both efficient and effective.
Their pressing was forceful yet measured, and they kept Spurs pinned deep into their own half all the way up until 20 minutes from the end. This was a group of players who knew exactly what their job role was in the side, taking on their orders and adhering to them.
The only issue was, they only scored one. Sure, Spurs turned the screw towards the end, but the fact is that because RB Leipzig were in such control for large spells, the fact they’ve left their opponents with a glimmer of hope in the second leg is the only downside on an otherwise solid showing.
RB Leipzig Player Ratings
Starting XI: Gulasci (8); Halstenberg (8), Ampadu (8), Klostermann (8), Tasende (7); Laimer (8), Sabitzer (9*), Mukiele (8); Nkunku (8); Werner (8), Schick (7).
Substitutes: Haidara (7), Poulsen (7), Forsberg (N/A).
Talk about running the show, Marcel Sabitzer was instrumental in all the flowing moves RB Leipzig made on Wednesday night. Operating off the front two, his commanding presence in the middle of the park was the platform for every attack the visitors made.
Intense in his pressing yet calm in possession, the Austrian oozed class with his silky footwork and impressive vision. He wore the captain’s armband and it’s only fair to say it was a captain’s performance from the 25-year-old.
Sabitzer is a peach of a footballer. Damn.
— King.. (@teddi_speaks) February 19, 2020
I love Marcel Sabitzer so much. He is pure class.
— Aaron West (@oeste) February 19, 2020
Spurs are back in Premier League action on Saturday to face fierce rivals Chelsea, meanwhile RB Leipzig travel to take on Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga this weekend.