World news – Andy Brassell on the Champions League: Leipzig reaches crescendo before Liverpool returns


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Julian Nagelsmann’s team is more ready than ever for Liverpool, writes Andy Brassell. Juventus and Sevilla have rescue operations in their hands in the Champions League

« Leipzig have won the Bundesliga six times in a row and are thus on the heels of FC Bayern Munich. On Saturday they won 3-0 in Freiburg thanks to an all-out 3-0 win Even taking the lead for a few hours. The task looks like a breeze. « 

Taking away home advantage is rarely a positive thing, but many out there must be wondering how different this second leg would be for Liverpool without current quarantine and border restrictions . The Reds lost an unprecedented sixth home game in a row against Fulham on Sunday and even with the 2-0 lead in the first leg against RB Leipzig in Budapest there could have been some butterflies when they were beaten against two London clubs in four days.

Leipzig has won the Bundesliga six times in a row and is therefore on the heels of FC Bayern Munich. On Saturday they even led a few hours thanks to an all-out 3-0 win in Freiburg, where they made a difficult effort and look like a breeze.

This run extends to eight wins out of nine in all competitions, with one exception the loss to Liverpool in Hungary. It’s the only doubt about Leipzig – we know Julian Nagelsmann has the tactical skills to compete against the best and that he has talent, but casual individual mistakes canceled them out in the first game and earlier in the Manchester United competition. You can feel that maturity will knead it out of Leipzig, but the return to Budapest is a test for your nerves as well as for your quality. They may have given themselves too much time to qualify, but the win doesn’t go beyond them.

How Juventus needed Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Lazio; not only to keep her on the verge of the Serie A title race but also in terms of performance as it has been one of their best in a while. It was not since the Supercoppa win against Napoli in January, which was so cheerfully celebrated by Andrea Pirlo, that the Italian champions have produced something so invigorating.

Interestingly, it was largely accomplished without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested and coming on as a substitute in the final 20 minutes when the back of the game was broken. Álvaro Morata led the line with Aaron Ramsey, Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa and the loaned Atlético Madrid and Chiesa striker did a great job. There’s no indication that Ronaldo won’t face his compatriots, but it’s positive for Pirlo that he has alternatives.

Chiesa could already have changed the course of this tie. Until he played the first leg at Dragão, Juve looked dull and unimaginative, were 2-0 behind and went nowhere quickly. The 23-year-old’s late goal has given the Bianconeri something to work with, but Porto is made up of hard stuff. Sérgio Conceição is training his team well and they hope to feed off the fear at home. If Juve went out on Tuesday, they would have left the Champions League in Ronaldo’s three seasons at the club against Dutch, French and Portuguese opponents.

It was another classic, another bad luck story for Borussia Dortmund when they played at Bayern on Saturday evening Munich suffered a late defeat. It was a seventh straight Bundesliga defeat in the championship’s home country, and while it was less comprehensive than some of their recent Bayern defeats, it was hard to swallow after they led 2-0 through a brace from Erling Haaland .

At least Edin Terzić could look back on some positive moments. For Julen Lopetegui, whose Seville was miserable in a deserved defeat in the Elche threatened with relegation, there was hardly a chance. After the shy surrender in Barcelona on Wednesday, he could have expected a reaction sooner when he denied them a place in the Copa del Rey final. Despite all talk of a revival of Barça, Seville was meek and very complicit in the comeback of Ronald Koeman’s side.

Lopetegui has to dig really deep and gather his troops before traveling to North Rhine-Westphalia, but it will take more than courage to change that as BVB have a lead and three away goals in the bank. The coach has said after the recent setbacks that performance has to come before result but the two have to match. Terzić’s plan to let Haaland start lower and burst at his pace beyond the defense of Seville worked perfectly and the visitors need a plan to at least make it harder for him.

Back Leipzig against Liverpool with 3.02 / 1Back under 2.5 goals between Juventus and Porto with 2.265 / 4Back Dortmund against Sevilla with 2.35 / 4


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