The clash between Tottenham and RB Leipzig sees two coaches with opposing philosophies go head to head….
The UEFA Champions League knockout clash between RB Leipzig and Tottenham will see one of the best young managers of this generation in Julian Nagelsmann lock horns with a veteran in the field in Jose Mourinho.
The 32-year-old managerial prodigy shot to fame during his promising stint with Hoffenheim and fended off interests from Real Madrid before taking over Leipzig. The German explained that it was not the right move for his career after he was approached by the Spanish giants in 2018 following Zinedine Zidane’s departure.
His decision to test himself with a bigger club in Germany before jumping on to a European powerhouse seems to have worked out well so far. Leipzig are pushing for the Bundesliga title, lurking behind Bayern Munich, trailing the defending champions by just one point.
Six years ago, German goalkeeper turned WWE wrestler Tim Wiese called Nagelsmann ‘Baby Mourinho’ because of his winning attitude and incredible knowledge of the game. Leipzig’s style of play includes a high press and vertical passes on a high tempo. This philosophy is contrary to what we are used to seeing from a side managed by the Portuguese manager. But it is their attitude that has drawn this comparison, and Nagelsmann admitted that despite not having the same philosophy, earning a nickname associated with Mourinho is not the worst thing in the world.
The 32-year-old will find one of the biggest tests of his career so far when he faces Mourinho on Wednesday. Nagelsmann claimed that former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola and former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had an influence on him. Going by this statement and Leipzig’s high tempo style of play, one can expect a clash of philosophies in the Champions League last-16.
“Jose has experience in every sort of situation,” said Nagelsmann. “He has managed so many knockout games and knows what to do if his team goes ahead, is behind, concedes early, needs a late goal. I’ve only had knockout games in the DFB-Pokal (German Cup).”
Both sides have lost just one of their last five fixtures in the league, although Spurs won thrice while Leipzig could only manage two wins. It’s safe to say that the form factor is not as relevant ahead of the big clash.
Nagelsmann’s stock will shoot up if he gets the better of Mourinho in a two-legged tie in the last-16 of the Champions League. But Mourinho is somebody you never write off.
“The opponent is Leipzig. I don’t have an opponent’s coach. I don’t play against him. I play against his team Leipzig. He did well in Hoffenheim before. He is doing very well at Leipzig. If he goes in the same direction the next step will be even bigger. I wish him obviously the best,” said Mourinho ahead of the clash.