Champions League semifinal preview PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon cease mighty Bayern?

Champions League semifinal preview PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon cease mighty Bayern?

After a dizzying, dramatic slate of quarterfinals in Lisbon that noticed last-second drama (PSG vs. Atalanta), historic scores (Bayern Munich 8, Barcelona 2) and a pair of great updates (RB Leipzig over Atletico Madrid, Lyon knocking Man Metropolis out), we’re all the way down to the ultimate 4 within the UEFA Champions League. Two video games pitting Ligue 1 sides towards Bundesliga opposition are up subsequent, as Lyon face Bayern and RB Leipzig look to finish PSG’s date with future.

Which teams are prone to transfer onto the ultimate? Which gamers might be decisive in both contest?

Here is your preview for the semifinals.

Leap to: RB Leipzig vs. PSG | Lyon vs. Bayern Munich


RB LEIPZIG vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (Tues., Three p.m. ET)

RB Leipzig

Grasp vs. Apprentice

When Julian Nagelsmann was pressured into untimely retirement as a younger central defender at Augsburg in 2008, it was his then-coach Thomas Tuchel who nudged him down the teaching path. Below Tuchel, Nagelsmann (nonetheless on the Augsburg payroll) began scouting after which took his first steps into teaching as assistant with 1860 Munich U-17s. From there he joined Hoffenheim’s youth system, obtained the highest job and is now in control of Champions League semifinalists Leipzig. His trajectory has been speedy and spectacular in equal measure.

2 Associated

A Nagelsmann aspect finds a approach of punching above its weight, the place the system attracts collectively particular person expertise to create a collective stronger than the sum of its elements. Having dispatched Tottenham after which Atletico Madrid within the knockout phases, Nagelsmann’s Leipzig play with out concern and even with out Timo Werner — he joined Chelsea on July 1 — they’re a formidable outfit. Nagelsmann, 33, will relish the possibility to knock his earlier boss out of the Champions League. “Video games towards him are at all times fascinating, as a result of he has a good suggestion of football,” Nagelsmann stated of Tuchel final week.

“In fact I used to be his participant, however that was a very long time in the past. Teaching’s my recreation now, identical to it is his.”

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Steve Nicol and Don Hutchison heap reward on Dayot Upamecano’s stellar UCL efficiency vs. Atletico.

Key gamers

Naglesmann’s strategy is all about transitions and the pace of turning defence into assault. Dayot Upamecano, their towering centre-back, was magnificent towards Atletico Madrid and neutralized the specter of Diego Costa with ease. Upamecano may have his fingers full making an attempt to cease Neymar and Mauro Icardi.

– Hamilton: Adams the hero as Leipzig beat Atletico

With Werner at Chelsea, the stress is on Leipzig’s forwards to ship. Yussuf Poulsen might be their go-to striker, however Marcel Sabitzer is integral. The Austrian attacking midfielder has 16 objectives and 11 assists to his title, and Leipzig will want him to be at his most inventive vs. PSG.

Why they are going to win

Leipzig have a fearless mentality. Briefly, the larger the opponent, the larger the chance. They’re defensively strong and thru the brilliance of Naglesmann’s tactical strategy, can swap from a 3-4-3, to a 3-4-1-2 or a 4-2-3-1 within the blink of an eye fixed. The gamers have an inherent understanding of their roles and are equally assured in transferring out of place to plug gaps. They’re so onerous to interrupt down, with Kevin Kampl integral to their system as he hovers in entrance of the again three snaffling out any potential attacking threats.

Why they won’t win

They’ve one factor going towards them, and it is a large one: the absence of Werner. He scored 34 objectives for them this season and was the heartbeat of their speedy assault. Whereas they’ve already moved to kind that for subsequent season with the signing of Hwang Hee-Chan from Salzburg, on Tuesday night time they are going to want gamers to as soon as once more step out of the Werner shadows and embrace the highlight. — Tom Hamilton

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Frank Leboeuf says PSG have “many query marks” heading into their Champions League semifinal vs. RB Leipzig.

That is Neymar’s time to shine

Once you consider the PSG model of Neymar within the Champions League, you consider inconsistency and an lack of ability to ship, having missed their final two exits from the competitors attributable to damage. Within the spherical of 16 towards Dortmund, Neymar was equal elements brash and good. In opposition to Atalanta, he was wasteful in entrance of aim however by no means stopped making an attempt to crack the Serie A aspect’s defenses. Aside from Lionel Messi, nobody else can dribble previous individuals like him and may personal a recreation like he did towards the Italians. He was the one inventive contact towards them. He was PSG’s attacking system alone.

– Laurens: PSG finish their Champions League curse
– Marcotti: Atalanta’s story is way from over

The French champions relied on him towards Dortmund within the final 16 and he delivered with two objectives. They relied on him towards Atalanta and he carried them, helping the primary aim and with a second help on the second. They’ll rely on him once more on Tuesday towards RB Leipzig. Will he take them to the ultimate? That is why they signed him. That is why he left Barcelona. He has two extra video games to get to the highest of Europe, like in 2015 with Barca, however this time, he could be the principle man doing it like he wished it.

Neymar was hammered for lacking clear probabilities vs. Atalanta however made up for it along with his persistence as PSG overcame Atalanta. Count on him to guide from the entrance on Tuesday night time. DAVID RAMOS/POOL/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Key gamers

Neymar will after all be the chief, however Kylian Mbappé might be his devoted lieutenant, the duo resembling a footballing model of Batman and Robin. The French prodigy is again within the semifinal of the Champions League three years after reaching it with Monaco in 2017. On the time, he was 18 and had taken Europe each by storm and abruptly. It is a completely different, higher KMB, and he’s the place we count on him to be. Like towards Atalanta, his tempo and his partnership with Neymar will trigger havoc within the Leipzig defence..

Then there’s Marquinhos, one of the best hybrid centre-back/holding midfielder on the earth. No different participant can do each jobs in addition to him. He might be key for PSG as soon as extra, as he should defend his again 4 from the waves of Leipzig assaults in addition to offering the fitting steadiness in transition for his team. At 26, he’s additionally an actual chief even when he would not put on the armband; he instructed his teammates to not panic towards Atalanta after they had been 1-Zero down and to not quit when the clock was ticking down.

Why PSG will win

The Parisians are giants each by way of their star energy and their monetary would possibly. They’re the haves towards Leipzig’s have-nots, and so they’re on a mission. Earlier than the lockdown and earlier than they confronted Dortmund within the final 16 second-leg, with a 2-1 deficit to overturn, they made a pact as a gaggle to go all the best way. They believed this was their season, and so they’re proving it to this point.

Higher but, their people are in prime kind, in contrast to in earlier seasons. Neymar, Mbappé, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva kind a successful backbone able to carrying this team to the ultimate. They’ve an excessive amount of brilliance for Leipzig to fight, particularly given Neymar’s kind. That brilliance extends to the teaching battle: Tuchel is aware of Nagelsmann higher than anybody else and he might be able to win the tactical battle towards him, particularly to beat Leipzig’s press.

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Julien Laurens and Gab Marcotti dive into Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s footballing journey and his aim for PSG.

Why PSG is not going to win

The expectations are large. Having waited 25 years for this chance, not reaching the ultimate 4 of the Champions League/European Cup since 1995, the stress might be crippling. PSG do not often cope effectively with this sort of stress, having crashed out of this competitors within the quarterfinals or earlier in every of the previous seven makes an attempt. Regardless of boasting the likes of Mbappe, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Champions League has been really past their grasp.

The French champions aren’t used to going through a team like Leipzig that performs with a lot vitality, depth and motion. It is going to be robust for them to maintain up with all of the runs from the wing backs, the forwards and the midfielders.

Based mostly on the most recent coaching classes, it seems like Tuchel will revert to his favorite 4-4-2 formation for this recreation, which might be a mistake as it will play into Leipzig’s fingers, particularly in midfield the place PSG danger to be completely outplayed. The opposite danger is that if issues begin going unsuitable and if Leipzig take the lead, Neymar or Mbappe will attempt to do their factor on their very own and will probably be completely counter-productive for the team. — Julien Laurens

Predictions

If Leipzig can maintain PSG’s attacking riches at bay, they are going to e-book their place within the Champions League ultimate with a 2-1 victory. — Tom Hamilton

PSG is stronger individually however Leipzig is best collectively. Nonetheless, in a recreation like this, I feel particular person expertise will prevail. PSG will win 2-1. — Julien Laurens



OLYMPIQUE LYON vs. BAYERN MUNICH (Weds., Three p.m. ET)

Lyon

The key to Lyon’s success: This was by no means on the playing cards. By no means, at any level this season, did one thing about Lyon’s recreation make you assume they might be on the verge of one thing so particular within the Champions League. But, right here they’re. They managed to defy adversity and negativity all season, even weathering the untimely finish to the Ligue 1 season as a result of coronavirus outbreak throughout the globe.

Coach Rudi Garcia and his gamers created a unbelievable team spirit, a way of togetherness and a psychological energy that has taken them 90 minutes from the Champions League ultimate. In addition they discovered the proper tactical system for them — a 3-5-2 that fits most of their prime gamers. On this formation, they’re onerous to interrupt down and onerous to beat. They’re strong in midfield, crowding out opponents, they’re disciplined within the sort out and so they can play on the counterattack.

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The FC crew debate if the higher team received the Champions League tie between Man Metropolis and Lyon.

The opposite secret is the emergence of a exceptional midfield three. In Houssem Aouar, Lyon already had a gem on their fingers. This might be his final recreation for the membership if an even bigger team comes for him this summer time, however Aouar has been a beautiful technical chief. He’s the total bundle: can create scoring probabilities, retain possession beneath stress and advance with the ball by means of tackles even in his personal half.

– Olley: Guardiola out-thinks himself vs. Lyon

Subsequent to him, Lyon have unearthed an actual star within the making in Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian was already praised in his nation, however fairly unknown in Europe. Not any extra, because the holding midfielder was excellent towards Juventus and Manchester Metropolis. The third and final musketeer within the Lyon midfield is the youngest and the brand new child on the block, Maxence Caqueret, 20, who performs with the maturity of a 30-year-old. All the pieces is clear with him and he places a lot stress on the opposition too.

Key gamers

Along with the aforementioned Houssem Aouar, Bayern should heed the risk created by Memphis Depay, who arguably should not even be enjoying. When he injured his knee earlier than Christmas, he and membership officers thought that his season was over. On Wednesday, he’ll lead his team because the captain into one of many greatest video games in Lyon’s historical past. He needs to make his second likelihood depend.

Equally, this can be a nice alternative for Depay to point out how far he is come since his disappointing spell at Manchester United. He was younger then, and doubtless not prepared after leaving PSV. At Lyon, he is discovered himself once more. Whether or not he performs at a false 9 or a second striker, his affect on the team’s recreation is big. He’s the boss of this team, its information and its soul. For Lyon to beat Bayern, they are going to want an incredible night time from him and an incredible partnership with Karl Toko Ekambi, who enhances him effectively up entrance along with his runs.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of different friends day-after-day as football plots a path by means of the coronavirus disaster. Stream on Football4cast+ (U.S. solely).

Why Lyon will win

Nobody anticipated them to get this far, and they’ll maintain doing what has labored to this point towards Juventus and Metropolis: defend deep with a again 5 and play on the counter. It needs to be efficient if Bayern stick to their excessive line, giving Lyon alternatives and room to run in behind. There might be a number of area there for Depay, Toko Ekambi and the wing-backs to take advantage of. In midfield, the three younger Lyonnais ought to address the stress from Bayern’s midfield.

Why Lyon will not win

Did you see what Bayern did to Barcelona? Make no mistake, Lyon are going through the favorites to win all of it. There might be no disgrace in shedding towards a greater aspect, one which has the expertise in midfield to dam Lyon’s trio. Stopping Alfonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski is also very troublesome and will price them the sport with an early aim. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich

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Julien Laurens particulars how a training change reworked Bayern Munich earlier this season.

Is that this Bayern’s trophy to lose?

The place do you go after you have already scored eight towards Lionel Messi & Co.? That is the problem going through Bayern Munich: learn how to maintain it going. Having secured a spot in Champions League immortality with that once-in-a-lifetime outcome, they know it will depend for nothing until they again it up with two extra wins and the trophy.

Oliver Kahn, the nice Bayern Munich goalkeeper, is now on their board and stated lately that the membership must win the Champions League “extra usually.” (Their final title: 2012-13, after they beat Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund 2-1.)

– Marcotti: Bayern’s brilliance, not Barca’s woe, the story
– Hunter: Barca’s humiliation is their very own fault

“I take a look at the longer term and it isn’t sufficient to win the Champions League title one time each 10 years,” he continued. Nicely, there’s the problem to Hansi Flick’s aspect and an indication of their ambition. The Bundesliga title — as others like Maurizio Sarri at Juventus discovered after clinching Serie A — is now not sufficient to fulfill the starvation of bold boardrooms. However that is now Bayern Munich’s Champions League to lose.

They’ve been magnificent all season, dominated the Bundesliga and much away lead the Champions League standings for anticipated objectives, or xG (31.38), have averaged 4.Three objectives per recreation and are second behind Manchester Metropolis for anticipated assists, or xA (19.67). They’ve unimaginable depth — simply take a look at their bench towards Barcelona, as they had been capable of deliver on Kingsley Coman and Philippe Coutinho to strengthen their grip on the match — and the world’s greatest striker in Robert Lewandowski. Then they’ve unsung heroes like Joshua Kimmich, the box-office expertise of Davies and the ever-calm Manuel Neuer between the posts.

Key gamers

You’ll be able to decide anybody from Bayern’s exceptional squad, however it’s onerous to look previous their good raumdeuter (or, actually, “area interpreter”) Thomas Muller. The attacking midfielder was out of the image beneath earlier supervisor Nico Kovac, however Flick’s introduction noticed Muller return to centre stage and he has been excellent for Bayern this season. He’s their glue: at all times the hyperlink man in assault (he has registered 21 assists this time period) and likewise chips in along with his justifiable share of objectives. He has a splendidly distinctive fashion and the deftest contact on the ball; with freedom in assault, he is so troublesome to mark.

Alongside Müller, Bayern may also want David Alaba to be on kind within the coronary heart of their defence. The 28-year-old has fashioned a formidable partnership with Jerome Boateng, however will should be on music to halt the likes of Depay and Moussa Dembele. He was weak towards Barcelona and although it did not price Bayern in the long run, he’ll have to rebound rapidly for the problem of Lyon.

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Craig Burley says not even Lionel Messi can maintain his head up after Bayern Munich’s emphatic 8-2 win over Barca.

Why Bayern will win

When you’ve gotten Lewandowski within the team, you fancy your probabilities, however Bayern are far greater than only one man. Their motto “Mia san Mia” roughly interprets to “we’re who we’re” and is the lifeblood of their identification — every little thing flows by means of this, and so they put a lot emphasis on team concord and a collective will. Flick manages the membership by means of encouragement, somewhat than an authoritarian strategy, and the gamers have responded.

Boateng, their veteran spectacular centre-back, has beforehand spoken of how Flick has introduced the enjoyable again to Bayern and the gamers are clearly thriving. They dominated the Bundesliga, successful their eighth-straight title by 13 factors, and have Champions League-winners within the squad in Müller, Neuer, Alaba and Boateng. Briefly, they know learn how to win.

Why Bayern will not win

Lyon will not be overawed by Bayern, after the French aspect polished off Man Metropolis, and can goal the German champions’ centre-backs, trying to push and pull Boateng and Alaba out of place. Each defenders are weak to tempo given Bayern’s propensity to play a excessive line; if the likes of Davies and Kimmich are remoted upfield, there might be room for Depay & Co. to take advantage of. — Tom Hamilton

Predictions

I feel that Bayern might be too good for Lyon. I can see the Germans successful 3-1. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich will come by means of with a 4-2 victory, Lewandowski will rating and Müller may have an impressive recreation. — Tom Hamilton

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