The 2021 European dream officially ended for the third Bundesliga club on Wednesday evening in Budapest. Julian Nagelsmann's German Red Bulls already faced a steep uphill climb against Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool in the second leg of the UCL round-of-16 tie.
After the German representatives put up a solid fight and even came within a strike of the crossbar of making it competitive, the Liverpool goals came in quick succession and RB fell out of the competition by a 0-4 aggregate scoreline.
Julian Naglesmann certainly fielded his best possible XI on Wednesday. Leipzig captain Marcel Sabitzer returned to the starting XI to pair directly with Kevin Kampl in midfield. The proven duo stood ahead of a back-three spearheaded by Dayot Upamecano and behind a triplicate attack of Emil Forsberg, Yussuf Poulsen, and Christopher Nkunku.
Jürgen Klopp countered with an exceptionally potent 4-3-3. This time Diogo Jota, instead of Roberto Firminho, worked as the lead striker between wingers Sadio Mané and Mohammed Salah. Just as in the opening leg, recent Bundesligists Thiago Alcantara and Ozan Kabak featured in Klopp's starting XI.
After getting off to a fine offensive start for the EPL Reds, Nkunku and Danio Olmo combined wonderfully in the 10th to force Liverpool keeper Alisson into the first save of the match. Nine minutes later, Peter Gulasci had to parry acrobatically to stop a Jota header. Gulasci alertly stopped Salah on another monster chance in the 24th.
The English team looked by far the stronger contestant throughout the first half, and Nagelsmann did not hesitate to bring on an extra attacker immediately at the restart. The resurgent Alexander Sørloth came on for Kampl at the break. The robust Norwegian, who looks to have finally hit his stride for Leipzig in recent weeks, did come close to recording an "away goal" for the Saxons.
Five minutes after a Sørloth header hit the crossbar, however, Mohammed Salah found the back of the net with a sharp-angle low shot after a fine counter. Four minutes after that, Sadio Mané guided a Divock Origi header over the line. The second leg thus became a mirror of the first, with Salah and Mané tallying in quick succession.
|26||Andrew Robertson ↩90|
|6||Thiago Alcântara ↩72|
|5||Georginio Wijnaldum (C) ↩82|
|11||Mohamed Salah ⚽|
|20||Diogo Jota ↩71|
|10||Sadio Mané ⚽ ↩90|
|27||Divock Origi ↪71|
|21||Konstantinos Tsimikas ↪90|
|7||James Milner ↪82|
|8||Naby Keïta ↪72|
|15||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ↪90|
|44||Kevin Kampl ↩46|
|25||Daniel Olmo ↩72|
|7||Marcel Sabitzer (C)|
|9||Yussuf Poulsen ↩60|
|10||Emil Forsberg ↩60|
|11||Hwang Hee-Chan ↪60|
|19||Alexander Sørloth ↪46|
|21||Justin Kluivert ↪60|
|8||Amadou Haidara ↪72|