Champions League: meteoric rise and the Hereford man – Leipzig’s dream continues


Julian Nagelsmann (center) helped RB Leipzig qualify for next season’s Champions League and guided them to this season’s semi-finals.

May 19, 2009.

With Tinchy Stryder topping the charts and Manchester United celebrating a third consecutive Premier League victory, a new club is formed in Germany after the takeover of fifth-tier SSV Markranstadt.

Fast forward 11 years and RB Leipzig has – incredibly – reached the last four in the Champions League.

Stripped of their main star before the competition resumed, Leipzig came up against experienced and accomplished Atletico Madrid – and rightly beat them.

Now they face Paris St-Germain – Neymar, Mbappe et al. Can they go all the way?

“I am perhaps one of the happiest coaches in the world,” said coach Julian Nagelsmann following the famous victory against Diego Simeone’s side.

Like everything that surrounds the club, Nagelsmann is young. At just 33, he has already shone with two Bundesliga teams and has long been touted for even bigger things.

“This club is developing very quickly,” he added.

“We have reached the Bundesliga and we have qualified for the Champions League three times. We are still in the Champions League. Progress is faster than usual. ”

It certainly is. It only took the club seven years to reach the Bundesliga. Four more to go this far. At the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday night, the new boys will be in the unusual position of making PSG – 50 on Wednesday – feel like the establishment.

Gulacsi rose from facing Northampton in Coca Cola League One at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals

The meteoric rise is also shared by the individuals of the club. Two weeks before the birth of RB Leipzig, goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi ended a loan from Ligue 1 as he was relegated with Hereford.

He is unlikely to have considered facing a £ 400million strike force in the Champions League semi-finals as he scored goals out of his net from Bas Savage, Lloyd Owusu, Billy Paynter and Paul Hayes at the wrong end of the third level of English Football.

Such was Atleti’s poverty of ambition, the Hungarian actually only had to make two stops in Lisbon – but he was a calming presence throughout.

Elsewhere in the squad, captain Yussuf Poulsen joined the club in third place and Marcel Sabitzer, creator of the first goal, played with them in the second division. There is history in the ranks, even if it is relative.

What’s next for Simeone?

Will the success of the Champions League escape Diego Simeone at Atletico?

Was that quarter-final defeat to knockout debutants RB Leipzig like “the end” for much-admired Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone?

The Argentine’s familiar tactic of getting his team to frustrate and suffocate their opponents for space before scoring a goal worked against Liverpool, but it was ineffective against the German side on Wednesday.

When they had possession in attack, forwards Diego Costa and Marcos Llorente struggled to convert that into chances without either of them scoring an effort on goal.

Should Simeone have started with signing £ 113million Joao Felix, who looked much more alive, won the penalty and scored on the spot?

Simeone has managed Atletico since 2011 and has led them to two finals and two Europa League wins. But before that defeat, his team had lost only one tie in the round of 16 at the hands of a team with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Add a La Liga table that shows his 2013-14 champions finished 12 points behind second-placed Barcelona, ​​and that has led some to question whether his methods remain as effective at Atletico.

He explained after Thursday’s loss that his team “gave it their all” they had.

He added: “We weren’t able to play the way we wanted. I liked the great enthusiasm and freshness of Leipzig.

“There are no excuses. We gave the best of ourselves and reached the quarter-finals. ”

Former England and Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas told BT Sport: “Tonight was like the end at Atletico Madrid. This mentality has not worked for Simeone in the Champions League. I think there is a place for it, but playing this way teams find ways to break them down.

Champions League winner Rio Ferdinand believes Atletico does not have a “second style of play”.

The former Manchester United defender told BT Sport: “You have to play with a plan A and a plan B. You have to be adaptable in the style of play. I don’t think Atletico has that second style of play. . “


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