As the Europa League reaches its quarter-final stage, RB Leipzig battle it out with Atalanta BC for a place in the final four over the course of the next week.
Ahead of Thursday’s first leg in Germany, the Bundesliga club enjoyed one of their best wins of the season, while their visitors continued to stumble in Serie A – in stark contrast to impressive European form.
Since finishing third in Champions League Group A last autumn, behind heavyweight contenders Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, much has changed at RB Leipzig, who have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes under new coach Domenico Tedesco.
The former Schalke boss took the hotseat towards the tail end of that ultimately unsuccessful campaign in Europe’s elite competition, and Die Roten Bullen have been on an upward trajectory since.
Not only have they inched up the Bundesliga standings to occupy fourth spot – with a three-point buffer to fifth-placed Freiburg – the Saxony side overcame Real Sociedad in the Europa League playoffs back in February, when a 3-1 away win in San Sebastian helped seal a 5-3 aggregate victory.
Having then received a bye against disqualified Russian club Spartak Moscow in the last 16, Leipzig’s second participation in the knockout phase now continues into the last eight.
As newcomers to the continental stage, they lost out in their one previous quarter-final appearance – to Marseille in 2018 – before exiting in the semi-finals of the Champions League two years later, at the hands of PSG.
More recently, Leipzig have won just one of their last five European home matches – a dead rubber against Manchester City earlier this season – and have been held to successive draws in the Bundesliga at Red Bull Arena, against Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ahead of Atalanta’s arrival on Thursday, Tedesco and co will hope to replicate their last two away displays instead: a 6-1 destruction of rock-bottom Greuther Furth, followed by Saturday’s clinical 4-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.