19:45 KO (BST); Wednesday 13th September; Red Bull Arena (Leipzig, Germany); BT Sport Extra
Excitement is in the air as RB Leipzig have reached the pinnacle of European Football and they face an intriguing match-up to begin their campaign.
Monaco have been in the news with the Kylian Mbappé saga, but the current French champions will be no pushover.
RB Leipzig have had a solid start to their domestic campaign. A defeat in Week 1 was followed by two excellent wins have Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side poised for another title challenge.
Monaco will be the title challenger to Paris Saint-Germain and so far this season they have kept the expected champions on their toes so far. A blip last time out see’s Leonardo Jardim’s side trail Ligue 1 leaders PSG by three points.
These are two young sides with plenty of talent, and it will be interesting to see who can assert themselves as the dominant force.
Last Time Out
Hamburg 0-2 RB Leipzig [Bundesliga]
RB Leipzig made the journey north to Volksparkstadion to face-off against the unbeaten Hamburg.
In a tight first half, RB Leipzig had the better of the chances but ‘keeper Christian Mathenia thwarted their initial efforts. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side waited until the 67th minute to break Hamburg open.
Soon to be Liverpool midfielder Naby Keïta produced an outrageous strike to put the visitors in front.
After 75 minutes, it was game over as Leipzig would secure all three points. Kevin Kampl’s excellent pass sent Timo Werner on his way, who beat Dennis Diekmeier and Gotoku Sakai before finishing past Mathenia.
Nice 4-0 AS Monaco [Ligue 1]
Monaco made the journey to Nice level on points with PSG as they looked to make it five from five in Ligue 1.
Nice have struggled in the early stages, but they didn’t show that as they dominated their heavily favoured opponents.
Well known bad boy Mario Balotelli opened the scoring after six minutes before Alassane Pléa doubled the hosts’ advantage 12 minutes later.
Balotelli was at it again on the hour mark for a well-deserved brace and the cherry was put on top of the Nice cake when Ignatius Ganago finished the fourth for a thrashing of Monaco in the Cote d’Azur derby.
RB Leipzig Lineup
Although RB Leipzig came away with the points, they didn’t leave Hamburg without injury. Naby Keïta picked up a knock which could see the Guinean miss the clash with Monaco.
Emil Forsberg missed the match with Hamburg with a cold but looks likely to return in the Champions League.
Kevin Kampl came off the bench, but with Keïta set to miss out, he is likeliest to start alongside Diego Demme in central midfield.
AS Monaco Lineup
After succumbing to defeat at the hands of Nice, manager Leonardo Jardim will hope for a good response in Leipzig on Wednesday night.
We expect Monaco to line up in a 4-4-2 like they have for most of this season. Stevan Jovetic and Keita Baldé should be available after joining late in the transfer window but will have places on the bench.
Key Battle: Timo Werner vs Radamel Falcao
This season, both strikers have been on fire to start their respective campaigns and the pairs’ ability to find the back of the net will decide who wins this game.
Timo Werner had a fantastic 2016/17 campaign and this time around the young German has continued his goal scoring endeavours. So far this season, Werner has three goals in two Bundesliga appearances, whilst also scoring a brace for Germany in their 6-0 win over Norway.
Radamel Falcao was happy to make the return to Monaco after two disastrous spells in the Premier League with Manchester United and Chelsea.
Last season, Falcao made 29 appearances scoring 21 goals, but was very much thrown in the shade with the hype generated by Kylian Mbappé.
The Columbian has continued his scoring form with seven Ligue 1 goals in five outings this season. Who will find the back of the net at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday?
Lack of experience
Time in the Champions League isn’t something Leipzig can boast as the German outfit have only two players with experience in European’s premier competition.
Kevin Kampl and the exciting Bruma will provide all the Champions League experience for RB Leipzig, with the latter making nine appearances for Galatasaray and the Slovenian making 14 appearances with Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.
For an inexperienced group in terms of Champions League exposure, the pair have a pivotal role in ensuring that Leipzig aren’t overawed by the occasion.
No Mbappé, no problem?
With Kylian Mbappé leaving Monaco of PSG on ‘loan,’ Monaco will need to fill the void left by the talented Frenchman.
Radamel Falcao has shown that he is a more than capable option, averaging more than a goal a game so far in Ligue 1.
His strike partner, Adama Diakhaby, has had a slow start to life in Monaco after joining from Stade Rennais in the summer. A goal and two assists for the 21-year-old Frenchman.
The new option comes in the form of Stevan Jovetić, who spent last season in La Liga with Sevilla with a return of six goals and four assists.
The Montenegrin hasn’t returned to the heights of his Fiorentina days, but he’s still an option going forward.
PREDICTION: RB Leipzig 2-0 AS Monaco
Monaco have the Champions League experience and many could assume that it will be enough to see the Ligue 1 club pick up all three points. However, they haven’t seen a side like RB Leipzig who press high up the park for the entire contest.
Even though they have little Champions League experience, at the Red Bull Arena I can’t go past Leipzig who will celebrate their first match in the Champions League with a win.
Can RB Leipzig win their first outing in the Champions League or will Monaco take the points back with them? Let us know in the comments section below
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