Maintaining a flawless record in the 2023-24 Champions League, Real Madrid, winners on 14 occasions, kick off their knockout phase on Tuesday. RB Leipzig hosts them in Germany for the first leg of the round of 16.
Real Madrid clinched the top spot in Group C, leaving their mark, while Marco Rose’s squad secured second place in Group G behind reigning champs Manchester City.
Group G of the 2023-24 Champions League played out as anticipated. While Manchester City dominated with a perfect 18 points from six matches, RB Leipzig secured the runner-up spot as expected, surpassing Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade.
Despite defeats to Man City, Leipzig triumphed in their other four Group G matches, although not without some struggle.
Their victories over Red Star and Young Boys were narrow at 2-1 each, sandwiched between a high-scoring loss to Man City. Maintaining a clean sheet proved challenging for Leipzig during the group stage.
Leipzig’s defensive vulnerabilities raise concerns ahead of hosting Real Madrid, who dominated their recent La Liga match against Girona.
Real Madrid enters the fixture following a dominant run in the group stage, where they were one of two teams, alongside Manchester City, to finish unbeaten.
Real Madrid has shown defensive lapses in away matches, conceding multiple goals in five of their last seven Champions League matches on the road. However, they seek to avenge their previous loss to Leipzig in the 2022-23 group stage.
RB Leipzig Champions League form: W L W W L W
RB Leipzig overall form: D L L L W D
Real Madrid Champions League form: W W W W W W
Real Madrid overall form: L W W W D W
Leipzig coach Rose anticipates a nearly full squad for Tuesday, barring Amadou Haidara, who faces uncertainty due to a knee injury.
Notably, Mohamed Simakan and Benjamin Henrichs are one booking away from suspension, while captain Willi Orban returns from injury.
Real Madrid’s midfield faces uncertainty, with Bellingham’s fitness in question. Nacho Fernandez’s return bolsters their defense, compensating for absentees like Eder Militao, David Alaba, and Thibaut Courtois.
Simakan, Lukeba, Orban, Raum;
Olmo, Schlager, Kampl, Simons;
Carvajal, Tchouameni, Nacho, Mendy;
Valverde, Kroos, Camavinga;
Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo
Prediction: RB Leipzig 1-2 Real Madrid
Considering Leipzig’s defensive struggles and Real Madrid’s attacking prowess, we predict a close 2-1 victory for Real Madrid in the first leg.