Analysis: Leipzig back in its favored underdog role

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-11 21:54:09|Editor: zh
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By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Roles seem clearly defined when a Bundesliga runner-up is crossing swords with Premier League side Tottenham in the next week's last-16-round duel. For the team of Portuguese star coach Jose Mourinho, this is far from good news.

English fans could see their 57-year-old manager on his spying tour in the Munich arena for a good reason keeping a close eye on the side's Champions League opponent. The former Manchester United coach didn't speak a word to his neighbours but appeared to be carried away in deep concentration.

Mourinho might have witnessed an essential change in his opponent's performance. Achieving a goalless draw against their closest national rival, Bayern Munich is said to be a significant turning point.

Leipzig is back in its favourite role as an outsider.

"It looks as if we had problems cruising at the top," the 23-year-old striker Timo Werner commented after his side had lost the league lead, only winning one of four games after the winter break. To fail in the German Cup, last-16-round against Frankfurt, worsened the East German's dark thoughts.

The supposed setback is no reason for disappointment when it comes to the German international.

Now the blond forward claims his team has gained back it's mental stability. "There were so many non-football-things in our mind over the winter break and shortly after," he added.

To be rated as a title favourite in the German league "was far from ideal for us. We didn't feel well."

Now things have changed according to Werner. The team of coach Julian Nagelsmann has passed an important test with the 0-0 against Bayern.

The 32-year-old coach initiated a smart maneuver by completely changing his approach. A few weeks ago, he spoke about the mountains top demanding from his team to develop more appetite for titles.

Now Nagelsmann made a U-turn taking pressure from his side. "We are far from ready for the title," he said, adding this is perfect that way. "We are well-positioned when ending up between two and four at the table."

Behind the scene, Nagelsmann hasn't lost one inch of his ambitions despite his comments indicating "we don't need to win the title."

In London, Rasenballsport might count on similar tactics moving his lines further up and away from their own goal to gain ball-wins and create counter-attack situations.

The Leipzig coach called it an important development step to have experienced "to be at the top and hunted by other competitors." Like his team, "I never was at the top after half of the season, being exposed to much more attention, feeling more pressure," he added.

"We are still around and take this as a positive step," Angelino, on-loan-defender from Manchester City, underlined in advance of the Tottenham clash.

Leipzig might have lost most of the duels against the Bundesliga's top sides but is taking the latest draws against Moenchengladbach (2-2) and Bayern as a success.

Before leaving Munich Mourinho might have taken a brief look at Leipzig's performance in the Champions League's group stage. RB won Group G ahead of Olympique Lyon, achieving two away-victories out of three games. Reason enough to be on high alert.