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UCL: Flawless PSG outclass RB Leipzig to reach first final

August 18, 2020

Paris Saint-Germain swept into their first Champions League final after a demolition of RB Leipzig. The German side lacked a cutting edge in attack without Timo Werner and were outclassed by the French champions.

Champions League I Halbfinale  I RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Ramos

RB Leipzig 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain, Estadio da Luz
(Marquinhos 11', Di Maria 42', Bernat 56')

This wasn’t how Julian Nagelsmann had dreamt it. When the dust settles on RB Leipzig’s Champions League campaign, they can reflect on a groundbreaking run to the final four that has seen them take great strides on the European stage — but the manner of this defeat will grate on Nagelsmann.

The Leipzig coach has still never beaten Thomas Tuchel, the man who encouraged him onto the path of coaching at Augsburg. In truth, this was a one-sided affair and Nagelsmann can only be left to reflect on the ease with which his side were cut open and the reality that PSG could have scored six or seven.

Werner factor

Timo Werner's departure for Chelsea proved not to be factor when Leipzig saw off Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals, but against a PSG side who like to defend further up the field, Leipzig sorely missed the man who had scored 28 goals and notched eight assists in 34 games this season.

Leipzig were ponderous where they're usually incisive and labored where they're usually dynamic. For this, Nagelsmann must also take his slice of responsibility, as his team never stood up to the challenge. Even had Werner still been wearing the red and white of Leipzig, it probably wouldn't have made a difference. Leipzig were outclassed in every department and, based on Nagelsmann's second half substitutions, his priority became avoiding a thrashing .

Champions League I Halbfinale  I RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain
RB Leipzig couldn't get to grips with Neymar in Lisbon.Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Ramos

"In the end, PSG's ticket to the final is well deserved," Nagelsmann said. "We needed a goal to get back into the game but instead they got it. Our belief was gone and in the end it was a case of character, and we did better in the second half. That's football, sometimes it's hard."

He added: "It's not easy to reflect on our season now, but in one week I think it will be ok. We need to find a new power for the new season."

Di Maria inspires PSG

On the flip side, PSG were irresistable. Neymar, seemingly back to his effervescent best, hit the post each side of the opener from Marquinhos, who soared through the air to meet Angel di Maria's beautiful freekick. Di Maria was the shining light for PSG, orchestrating wave after wave of attack, with Leipzig caught in the headlights.

Di Maria himself got on the scoresheet with a composed finish from close range after a mistake by Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, and by half time the writing was on the wall. Leipzig improved after the break, but Juan Bernat scored the third to extinguish any lingering hopes Leipzig had of staging an unlikely turnaround.

By the time Leipzig were finally put out of their misery, the result had long been obvious. Qatar-backed PSG have finally broken the glass ceiling and reached the Champions League final, with Leipzig left to contemplate what could have been.


As it happened:

90' FULL TIME: RB Leipzig 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain — Goals from Marquinhos, Di Maria and Bernat send PSG into the Champions League final for the first time. Leipzig can reflect on a fine run to the final four but didn't turn up for this one. PSG will face either Bayern Munich or Lyon in Sunday's final.

88' Sabitzer makes a crucial block in the box to deny Neymar, who probably deserves a goal for his overall contribution tonight.

86' PSG throw on Choupo-Moting for the final few minutes. He replaces Mbappe and Di Maria also makes way. Both players have been superb tonight.

82' A double change for PSG as Verratti and Draxler come on for Paredes and Herrera. Leipzig bring on Orban for Klostermann.

81' Almost a freak goal for PSG as Klostermann's clearance hits Mbappe and Gulacsi is forced into a save. 

79' Neymar hacked down by Halstenburg, who receives a yellow card despite winning the ball. Poulsen is also booked for his protests.

76' PSG should have punished Leipzig on the break with Mbappe and Neymar in a 2-on-1 with Angelino, but Mbappe's ball to Neymar is a poor one and then Neymar slips over anyway.

75' Chance for Leipzig as Angelino hammers a shot at Rico, who saves it before Poulsen can get there. That's the hardest Rico has had to work all night. 

72' Mbappe in again but doesn't really get hold of it and Gulacsi makes the save. 

70' Mbappe should score. Di Maria the architect again with a teasing cross, which the Frenchman heads just wide.

67' PSG starting to play with a real swagger now. Thomas Tuchel can even think about resting Mbappe or Neymar for the final.

64' Further proof of that as Kampl makes way for the more defensively minded Tyler Adams.

62' That's Laimer's last contribution as he is withdrawn for Halstenburg. An indication that Nagelsmann is accepting the defeat.

61' A frustrated Laimer clatters Kimbembe and the Leipzig man gets a yellow. The French defender has stayed down and needs some treatment, but gets back to his feet.

60' Sabitzer has a hopeful swing at the ball and his shot is on target, but easy for Rico, who is yet to be tested.

59' Unfortunately for Leipzig this is a harsh lesson in the realities of top level European football. They had started the second half well but PSG only need one chance. They are yet to break sweat.

56' GOAL! RB Leipzig 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain — Bernat makes it three! Di Maria crosses for Bernat, who stayed up front a previous attack and nods in from close range. Leipzig claim that Mukiele was fouled by Herrera, but to no avail. Leipzig look dead and buried.

53' Klostermann's hoisted diagonal ball into the box is nodded down by poulsen for Schick, but PSG scramble it clear. A few concerns for PSG that weren't there before the break. 

52' Forsberg takes on an ambitious long range shot which was always rising just over, but far more positive from Leipzig.

51' Leipzig playing with more tempo than in the first half, and it seems to be working for them as they force a corner. Forsberg's ball in reaches Schick, whose header flicks out for another corner. But this time Paredes gets it out.

48' Promising burst forward by Laimer, but Pouslen is unable to bring the ball under his spell. At least it's a positive start to the half by Leipzig.

46' SECOND HALF — Off we go again. Nagelsmann sent his players out early for the second half, including substitutes Forsberg and Schick. Nkunku and Olmo have not reappeared for the second half.

45'+1 RB Leipzig 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain — PSG have one foot in the final. The French champions have been superb, with goals from Marquinhos and Di Maria putting them in complete control. Leipzig have had no answer to PSG's individual talent and are living on a prayer as Nagelsmann storms angrily into the locker room.

45' Kimpembe into the book for a foul on Olmo, and Leipzig have a chance right at the end of the first half with a freekick, but Angelino's ball into the box is dealt with by PSG.

44' Neymar puts a good chance just wide, and Leipzig are on the ropes.

42' GOAL! RB Leipzig 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain — Di Maria makes it two! It's a nightmare for Gulacsi, who gives the ball away with a poor clearance, Neymar flicks it on to Di Maria, and the Argentine calmly despatches it from close range. A real kick in the stomach for Leipzig.

41' Mbappe digs out a cross from the left but Neymar is flagged offside. It's wave after wave from PSG, whose star forwards have certainly turned up tonight.

38' Neymar pops up in a dangerous area again, but Mukiele gets back to make a vital challenge just as Neymar was about to pull the trigger. It's all PSG at the moment — Leipzig need halftime.

37' Silva seeks out Mbappe with a pinpoint long ball but Mbappe, who had peeled off Mukiele but wasn't quite able to bring the ball under control.

35' Neymar hits the post again! Neymar hits the post again and it's an audacious effort by the Brazilian! Everyone was expecting the cross from the freekick, but Neymar spotted Gulacsi on the other side of his goal and went for the spectacular and almost pulled it off.

31' The French champions have been very controlled so far. Their superior movement and use of the ball has been almost too much for Leipzig and Nagelsmann will be hoping to reach halftime without further damage.

28' PSG work the ball out to Kehrer in a nice area on the right, but his cross is wildly over hit.

Thomas Tuchel watches on with Julian Nagelsmann in the background. The two worked together at Augsburg.
Thomas Tuchel watches on with Julian Nagelsmann in the background. The two worked together at Augsburg.Image: Getty Images/M. Fernandez

25' Poulsen chance! Leipzig's first real chance of the game and it's a good one as Laimer gets beyond Paredes down the right and cuts back to Poulsen, who stabs his shot just wide of the near post.

22' Kampl bursts into the box and forces a corner but the referee pulls play back for a foul on Olmo, and Leipzig have a chance with the freekick... and Sabitzer's effort clips the top of the wall and goes out for a corner, which goes just over Poulsen's head.

20' Leipzig have just managed to stem the flow a little in the past couple of minutes. Nagelsmann's side enjoying a bit more of the ball, but struggling to do much with it.

17' Gulacsi makes a good save from Mbappe, who had once against waltzed into space, although this time the flag was up.

15' It was worrying how easily Marquinhos lost his marker to score the opener. Leipzig struggling badly at the moment.

13' GOAL! RB Leipzig 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain — Marquinhos scores! Di Maria delivers a brilliant teasing free-kick from the left and Marquinhos leaps unmarked to glance the ball into the far corner. Superbly executed and the warning signs were there for Leipzig.

PSG's Marquinhos celebrates his opener with compatriot Neymar.
PSG's Marquinhos celebrates his opener with compatriot Neymar.Image: Getty Images/M. Fernandez

11' Di Maria's corner reaches Marquinhos and it deflects off Poulsen for another corner. PSG then win a third corner in quick succession, but Leipzig finally clear their lines. The Germans under big pressure early on. PSG look in the mood.

9' A good move by Leipzig down the right but an off balance Nkunku is unable to make contact. Moments later Sabitzer has a go from distance and it's a decent drive, but a comfortable one for Sergio Rico in the PSG goal.

7' Mbappe puts the ball in the net but is immediately flagged offside. Tuchel isn't happy but Mbappe was off. Leipzig are letting PSG in a little too easily at the moment.

6' Off the post! The first big chance falls to PSG as Neymar is played clean through and his early shot beats Gulacsi but skims the outside of the post. An early scare for Leipzig.

Champions League Halbfinale RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain Chance Neymar
Neymar struck the post early on for PSG.Image: Getty Images/D. Ramos

3' The early initiative being taken by Leipzig, who are stretching PSG early on.

1' KICK OFF — We're underway in Lisbon...

20:50 Nagelsmann has a plan

It's also the biggest night in the young coaching career of RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann. The former Hoffenheim coach has already steered Leipzig to victories over Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in this competition, but PSG presents an even tougher task. So what's his plan to keep Mbappe and Neymar quiet?

"You can't foresee what Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could do, they're top players. We need to defend them as a team," he said. "It'll be difficult, but we need to make them work and put them under pressure.

"We have to avoid losing the ball, because PSG are very strong on the counterattack, but we'll try to take the game by the scruff of the neck."

20:40 Another record for Silva

One of the players looking to stop Nkunku is Thiago Silva. The experienced PSG defender is two years older than Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann and will leave the club at the end of this campaign, which will be either tonight or in Sunday's final. The PSG captain will notch up another club record tonight...

20:30 Nkunku back among friends

One player who is starting is Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku. The 22-year-old left PSG for Leipzig just over a year ago, and has been speaking about the differences between the two sides' development...

"At PSG, we were always very dominant, but Leipzig have to work hard for every win. The Bundesliga is much more balanced than Ligue 1. The coach demands that I keep a good overview and sense danger before things get out of hand. For example, I have to sprint longer and more often than in Paris.

"We're a young team and in the development stage. Many things are new for us. That's why we're sometimes not focused enough, although it shouldn't happen. We have to be at 100 percent af 90 minutes and more. But you can't compare Leipzig with Paris. PSG mostly have experienced players, who are at the end of their development. At RB, we need time to mature."

RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku is facing the side he left in 2019.
RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku is facing the side he left in 2019.Image: AFP/I. Fassbender

20:20 Adams waiting in the wings

The hero from the win over Atletico starts on the bench again. Tyler Adams scored the winning goal — his first goal of any description for Leipzig — and he's been speaking about that magical moment...

"At first, I didn't realise the ball went in, because without fans the circumstances are different whenever the ball hits the net. Plus, I'm not known for scoring a lot. But whenever you realise you've scored, the feeling is just unreal. There are so many emotions going on at that time. It was an indescribable feeling."

20:10 Mukiele in, Halstenburg out

Just the one change for Leipzig from the side that beat Atletico, with Mukiele coming in for Halstenburg in defense. Nagelsmann opting for Mukiele's pace in the backline, which could be a crucial factor in stopping Mbappe. For PSG, Di Maria and the aforementioned Mbappe start. Icardi, who was underwhelming against Atalanta, is on the bench.

20:00 Teams news!

Here's how RB Leipzig will line up tonight...

And here's PSG's starting XI...

Hello and welcome one and all to DW's coverage of the UEFA Champions League semi-final as Leipzig look to spoil the Paris Saint-Germain party by becoming the seventh German club to reach a European Cup final. Our live blog goes LIVE at 20:00 CEST, but until then get the pre-match lowdown on all the major talking points...

  • Fun fact!

While Leipzig have reached the semifinals for the first time at their second attempt, Paris are in the final for only the second time in the UEFA Champions League era. The last time was 25 years ago in the 1994/95 campaign when they lost 3-0 on aggregate to AC Milan.

  • From the coaches' mouth: Julian Nagelsmann

"We want to get to the final that's only natural. At World Cups and EUROs teams that are fresh and courageous do well and PSG are both. Atalanta weren't able to punish them and we have to have a perfect day if we want to."

Read more: Fearless Nagelsmann has sights set on PSG 

  • From the coaches' mouth: Thomas Tuchel

"You need many leaders in a game like this. Football is a team game. You can't win these things on your own, it doesn't work like that."

  • Fun fact!

While Thomas Tuchel was honing his coaching skills with Augsburg's reserve team, he used an oft-injured defender by the name of Julian Nagelsmann to help him scout upcoming opponents. It was the 33-year-old's first-step in his coaching career.

  • From the player's mouth: Tyler Adams

"We're just going game-by-game. I've played against Mbappé already, when I was playing for the national team. We know it's going to be very tactical game and we also know PSG has an amazing team, but we're excited and we've proved that we're ready."

  • Player focus: Christopher Nkunku

Nkunku is being touted as the player to make Werner's departure redundant. It is his own departure from PSG, however, that will steal focus on Tuesday. The 22-year-old has not ruled out a return to the French capital, but said he was pleased to be "taking more responsibility" in his debut season with Leipzig.

  • From the player's mouth: Marcel Sabitzer

"Paris are favourites: that much is obvious. We will need a similar day to the one we had against Atlético, but we are not in the semi-finals to make up the numbers: we want to win this match. If we believe, I am convinced we can prevail."

  • Fun fact!

This is Leipzig's first European semi-final. They are aiming to become the seventh German club to reach the European Cup final, after Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern München, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hamburg, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Possible line-up: Leipzig

Gulacsi - Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg - Laimer, Kampl, Sabitzer, Angelino - Olmo, Poulsen, Nkunku

  • Possible line-up: PSG

Rico - Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat - Di María, Marquinhos, Paredes, Neymar - Mbappé, Icardi