Atletico Madrid suffered late heartbreak in Lisbon on Thursday night as Tyler Adams’ deflected 87th-minute goal helped RB Leipzig reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
RB Leipzig were the better of the two teams but the game was tight until the last minute and there was little to separate the two sides. The first half didn’t see any goals scored but the German outfit took the lead in the 50th minute with a glancing header from Dani Olmo.
Atletico Madrid equalized in the 71st minute when Joao Felix converted a spot kick, which he won himself, and got the Spanish side back into the game.
But ultimately, RB Leipzig clinched the game when a lovely build-up play led to a shooting opportunity outside the box for Adams, whose shot received a healthy deflection from Stefan Savic and past Jan Oblak into the Atletico Madrid goal.
#1 Dayot Upamecano showed why the biggest clubs in Europe are tracking him
The 21-year-old centre-back was a giant for RB Leipzig on Thursday night and produced a defensive masterclass to help his side get to the Champions League semi-finals.
Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa is a tough striker to handle for any defender in the world but Dayot Upamecano completely neutralised the Spaniard and the forward didn’t have a sniff all game.
Upamecano was physical, his passing was on point, and he won all his tackles and physically dominated Costa for the duration of the game. The Frenchman’s performance earned him the Man of the Match accolade as well.
The defender gave a taste of why Europe’s biggest clubs are interested in signing him. He recently signed a new contract with Leipzig and is likely to stay at the club next season. But expect the big clubs to come calling for Upamecano again next summer.
#2 RB Leipzig matched Atletico Madrid’s work rate and defensive resilience
What makes Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side a hard team to play against is their desire and commitment to work hard when not on the ball.
Atletico Madrid at their best rarely gives their opponents time to rest and their defensive resilience has been their hallmark for many years under Simeone.
The defensive blocks, the constant running off the ball and their ability to play the percentages make them a tough team to beat.
RB Leipzig went toe-to-toe with Atletico Madrid in terms of work rate and work off the ball. While they played the better football, Julian Nagelsmann’s team were prepared to put in the hard yards as well and defended as a team, which Atletico Madrid are masters in.
#3 How long can RB Leipzig keep hold of Julian Nagelsmann?
Julian Nagelsmann is a managerial prodigy and at some point one of the European heavyweights will turn to him in the near future.
The German was 28 when he took charge of Hoffenheim as head coach and he helped the Bundesliga outfit to qualify for the Champions League in his first full season at the club in 2017.
RB Leipzig got hold of him last summer and the 33-year-old has only burnished his reputation at the east German club.
They finished third in the Bundesliga last season and Nagelsmann has guided them to their first-ever Champions League semi-final. For context, RB Leipzig have been in existence only since 2009.
But his career trajectory suggests, that the club must start finding his replacement soon as Nagelsmann is unlikely to stay at Leipzig for too long.
Very soon, he will get the knock on the door from one of the biggest names in Europe. He is too good and too young not to get that big job offer in the near future.
#4 What next for Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid?
Diego Simeone has been in charge of Atletico Madrid since 2011 and another season at the club will see him complete ten years as head coach of the Spanish giants.
The longevity he has shown at Atletico Madrid is unheard of in modern football and he will be remembered as one of the great figures at the Wanda Metropolitano. But is it time for Simeone to seek a fresh challenge?
The Argentine has won La Liga as Atletico Madrid head coach and guided them to two Champions League finals. His team are one of the most difficult teams to beat in Europe. But has he taken them as far as he could?
Simeone’s tactics haven’t changed much in recent years and he still depends on his side being defensively solid and functional in the attack. Joao Felix joined last summer for an eye-watering €120m fee but his flair is not suited to the head coach’s needs and he has not been a regular this season.
There is a feeling both Atletico Madrid and Simeone need to part ways as both need a chance. The club need a different head coach with a different style and the Argentine needs a fresh challenge in a different league.
#5 We will have at least one new Champions League finalist this season
RB Leipzig will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final next Tuesday night in Lisbon. The German team will be making their first Champions League semi-final appearance and PSG are back in the last four of the competition for the first time in 25 years.
Neither of the teams have ever been in the Champions League final and therefore, we will have a new finalist in this season’s competition.
The other semi-finalists are yet to be decided with Barcelona and Bayern Munich playing in the third quarter-final today and Manchester City and Lyon facing each other in the last quarter-final on Saturday.
If Manchester City make it to the final, we will have a new team winning the Champions League for the first time since Chelsea lifting the trophy in the 2011-12 season.