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Leipzig earn their luck as Simeone's gameplan is derailed by Nagelsmann

RB Leipzig 2 Atletico Madrid 1

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Leipzig’s Tyler Adams celebrates after his shot found the Atletico net. Photo: AP

Leipzig’s Tyler Adams celebrates after his shot found the Atletico net. Photo: AP

AP

Leipzig’s Tyler Adams celebrates after his shot found the Atletico net. Photo: AP

It isn't Atletico Madrid's year, then, because RB Leipzig were the side actually willing to seize the day.

Diego Simeone's defensive approach ultimately let him down, on more than one level. Atletico again struggled to create when they needed to, and it was an attempted block that finally knocked them out.

Tyler Adams's speculative shot went in off Stefan Savic to give Leipzig the victory their approach deserved, and send them into the semi-finals for the first time in their short history.

They will meet Paris Saint-Germain, in a match that is effectively a state against a sports drink franchise: Qatar against Red Bull. That might sum up the depressing reality of the modern game in this strange setting, but it shouldn't take away from the brilliance of Julian Nagelsmann. He is very much the present and future of coaching. That he did without Timo Werner was all the more impressive, while Simeone lost the tactical battle.

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Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente in action with RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara. Photo: Reuters

Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente in action with RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente in action with RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara. Photo: Reuters

 

Leipzig would have almost seemed ideal opponents for Atletico. They have a progressive, proactive ideal, and would surely take the game to Atletico. Nagelsmann, however, is canny. With the 33-year-old obviously conscious of all this, it was conspicuous that Leipzig weren't pressing anywhere near as hard as they usually would.

That invited Atletico to come forward, which is not where they're comfortable. Simeone's side would rather be released on the counter than have to construct, and it was telling that their best first-half chance was a header from a centre-half, Savic going close.

Leipzig's best chance by that point was also a header from a centre-half, Dayot Upamecano bringing a save from Jan Oblak.

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Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix from the penalty spot. Photo: Reuters

Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix from the penalty spot. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix from the penalty spot. Photo: Reuters

 

The point of it, however, was patience; to wait for the right moments to press, and to push.

One was just after half-time. This wasn't exactly pouncing on an opening, however, but instead contriving one through a wonderfully constructed move.

This really was Nagelsmann's football at its best. After a series of angled passes that prised open the space, the excellent Marcel Sabitzer played in a cross that Olmo fired past Oblak with a fearsome header.

This was precisely the kind of situation Simeone has struggled with most in his time at Atletico: having to score, having to be on the front foot. It just so happened, though, this was precisely the setting for Joao Felix.

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Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco and RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann track down the ball. Photo: Reuters

Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco and RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann track down the ball. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco and RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann track down the ball. Photo: Reuters

 

A €126m signing, he certainly represents "a lot" to bring on from the bench. It's just that the 20-year-old partly started there because he's had a patchy first season at Atletico.

Many, however, have felt that his moment has been coming. This, in his home city, his side needing something, was it. After a series of influential interventions, he suddenly surged forward on 70 minutes, Lukas Konstermann could do little but bring him down. Felix got up and then stepped up for the penalty. In a genuine pressure moment, he converted.

It's just that… this was still pretty much all Atletico had: individual surges or set-pieces. It was almost as if Leipzig saw this, realised they didn't have too much worry about it, and then picked it up again.

They did get lucky with the winner, but that's what happens when you take the initiative. You'll get bounces of the ball by working the ball. Atletico this time can't even point to bad luck, Leipzig were just too good for them.

© Independent News Service

Independent News Service