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Tottenham v Leipzig is not Mourinho v Baby Mourinho, says Nagelsmann

The German boss shifted the focus away from comparisons between him and the Portuguese ahead of a midweek Champions League clash

Julian Nagelsmann insists it will not be a case of Mourinho v Baby Mourinho when his RB Leipzig side visit Tottenham in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Nagelsmann, previously dubbed ‘Baby Mourinho’ in Germany will take charge of his maiden Champions League knockout game in the last-16 first-leg encounter with Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.

However, the 32-year-old, who is the youngest coach in the Champions League, was quick to shift the focus away from the battle of wits in the dugout at his pre-match media conference.

He said: “It is only a game between Leipzig and Tottenham. Eight years ago, Tim Wiese [former Hoffenheim goalkeeper] called me Baby Mourinho, but that was only for two weeks. After that, he called me Julian again.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v Baby Mourinho.

“The respect I have for him is enormous. He has won countless titles, not just with major clubs, and helped shape European football.

“The victories with Porto in the UEFA Cup and Champions League in a short time were very impressive. 

“I read today that it will be his 59th knockout game in the Champions League. It will be the first for me!

“He has an aura that can captivate you. I’m really looking forward to getting to know him.”

Nagelsmann has gained many admirers for his work at Hoffenheim and Leipzig and was strongly linked with the Tottenham job prior to Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking in November.

Asked if he nearly became Tottenham boss when Pochettino departed, Nagelsmann replied: “Me? No.”

Leipzig topped a group containing Lyon, Benfica and Zenit Saint Petersburg to reach the last 16 for the first time, but Nagelsmann downplayed the magnitude of the first leg in north London.

“I have a certain nervousness before every game,” he said. “But it is not the most important game in the club’s history. Of course, we want to reach the next round. But it is only the first leg.”

The second leg is due to take place at Red Bull Arena on March 10, with both sides set to turn their attention back to domestic commitments before renewing hostilities.

Spurs will be back in Premier League action away at Chelsea this weekend, while Leipzig are scheduled to take on Schalke in a Bundesliga clash at Veltins-Arena.

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