RB Leipzig booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a dominant display in their 3-0 second-leg win over Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night.
The hosts got off to a great start when skipper Marcel Sabitzer fired the ball past Hugo Lloris, with the keeper failing to keep out the driven shot. Die Roten Bullen almost then made it a two-goal lead when Timo Werner tapped in a cross from Angeliño, only for the striker's run to be ruled offside.
In many ways Leipzig's second goal hasn't changed Tottenham's task. They still need to rebuild their entire defence and midfield.— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) March 10, 2020
Yet the left wing-back, on loan from Manchester City, was involved again minutes later, taking advantage of Serge Aurier's poor header before crossing for Sabitzer to nod in at the near post - with Lloris again unable to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Spurs looked stunned and unable to recover, as Leipzig confidently outplayed them throughout the first half. Their best chance came just before the break, when Giovani Lo Celso's bending shot was parried away by Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulácsi.
6 - RB Leipzig´s 1-0 was Marcel #Sabitzer´s 6th goal this season from outside the box. Only Lionel Messi scored more this season in the all competitions for European top 5 leagues teams. Power. #UCL #RBLSPURS pic.twitter.com/4luldD8sFy— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 10, 2020
In the second half, Spurs failed to respond strongly. They were helpless as their opponents cruised all around the pitch, looking comfortable on the ball while not being threatened at all at the back. After Werner fired over the bar, substitute Emil Forsberg made sure of the win when he toe-poked the ball past Lloris to cap off a miserable night in Germany for the Premier League club.
The Germans march onto the quarter-final with a 4-0 win on aggregate, while Spurs must look to finish in the top four in the Premier League to ensure they are back next season.
Key Talking Point
Despite their 1-0 victory in the first-leg, Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann knew his team needed to win decisively this time around to confirm their passage into the quarter-finals.
And his team came out with a spring in their step. With Spurs looking dangerous in the opening of the game, the Bundesliga club then took over and pressed the away side's backline into making error after error.
The pace on display was frightening, with their ability to turn defence into attack with one pass a key part of their game plan. Werner, Schick and Nkunku took turns to run at the Tottenham defence, and capitalised on the high positions taken by Aurier and Ryan Sessegnon into exploiting the vulnerable three centre-backs. The trio also forced the Premier League side into turnovers, forcing many errant passes.
While Leipzig were not fancied by most to go too far in this season's Champions League, they may become the team to avoid for any potential opponents in the last-eight.
RB Leipzig Player Ratings
Substitutes: Adams (6), Haidara (6), Forsberg (7)
Marcel Sabitzer - Star Man
While Werner may get all the attention for his goalscoring, it was Marcel Sabitzer who shone brightest for Die Roten Bullen.
The skipper scored twice in a fine display and was not only tidy in possession, but also was terrific in harassing the Spurs midfield.
Sabitzer is some player— Tom Ross (@TomRoss7) March 10, 2020
Key Talking Point
Much has been made of the Tottenham attack lacking their stars and firepower in front of goal. Yet this was a stark reminder that their defence needs a huge revamp if they are to compete at this level in Europe...or any level, for that matter.
Hugo Lloris was woeful in goal, and his mistakes certainly reinforced the narrative that the goalkeeper is no longer performing to the standards that he once was a few years ago. The skipper should have done better to keep out Sabitzer's low shot for the first goal, and his positioning was poor for the second.
His defence didn't do him any favours either. Eric Dier showed why he is a midfielder by trade, and not a centre-back. The England international was haphazard and never looked comfortable with the pace of the Leipzig attack, with Werner in particular waiting to pounce on any mistake he made. Serge Aurier too made the wrong decisions throughout the game and his defensive weaknesses were on show.
37 - Since Jose Mourinho's first game in charge on November 23rd, only Aston Villa (42) have conceded more goals than Spurs (37) in all competitions among Premier League teams. Leaky. pic.twitter.com/0WyPEhH0db— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2020
If Tottenham are to ever make another Champions League final like they did last season, they should prioritise a rebuild in their defence and the acquisition of a top-class goalkeeper before looking to bring in attacking talent...even if they currently have no available first team strikers.
Tottenham Player Ratings
Giovani Lo Celso - Spurs' Bright Spark
The one bright spark for Spurs was Giovani Lo Celso.
On a night where his teammates performed poorly throughout, the Argentine looked lively with his runs and energy during the game, and looked dangerous whenever he was on the ball.
Lo Celso is too good for us.— Adamo Castiglione (@adcas5) March 10, 2020
Leipzig next host Freiburg on Saturday afternoon, while Spurs host Manchester United a day later. Spurs are in free fall, and they need to change things as soon as possible.