By Simon Evans
LISBON, Aug 12 – RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann has shrugged off the absence of leading scorer Timo Werner, saying it will not affect their chances of beating Atletico Madrid in Thursday’s Champions League quarter-final.
Werner joined Premier League club Chelsea last month after scoring 34 goals in all competitions for Leipzig this season, leaving a gaping hole in their attack.
Overall, the 24-year-old has scored a club record 95 goals in 159 appearances over four seasons for the Bundesliga side.
However, Nagelsmann insisted Leipzig had other options up their sleeve.
“It has been talked about a lot, but Timo is not here any more,” he said.
“But it’s not as if we have to play with a man less. We have the ability in midfield and attack to score goals. We have players who played little because of Timo and those players who were in the shadows can now take the responsibility.”
In a normal season, Werner would have stayed with Leipzig until the end of their Champions League campaign.
But because of the COVID-19 interruption, Leipzig finished their Bundesliga campaign at the end of June and had to wait nearly six weeks for the Champions League ‘Final Eight’ mini-tournament in Lisbon.
Having taken a holiday in July, Werner preferred to start training with his new club rather than returning to Leipzig.
Nagelsmann said he believed the single-leg format could help Leipzig as Atletico are expert campaigners over two legs.
“Atletico have more experience but I am convinced that plays a greater role over two games. This is a single match. Atletico have no experience with this format either so I don’t think their experience is as important as would normally be the case.” (Reporting by Simon Evans; Additonal reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)