Updated: Aug 18, 2020
To say they RB Leipzig have 'risen' to stardom would be an insulting understatement. They've controversially rocketed into the limelight, and now have a genuine chance of reaching Europe's greatest club fixture - the Champions League Final.
RBL formed in 2009. The club have only existed for as long as Thiago Silva has played in Europe, even then, Neymar was on the books at Santos. Even Leipzig's manager is younger than PSG's captain. They're by far the shiniest new toy in Europe,
Despite plenty of German fans hating the manner in which they've climbed the rankings (here's a video explaining why!), you can't help but admire their style of play. They look dangerous and play with intent. It was likely this go-getter mentality that saw them defeat a slower and less enterprising Atletico Madrid side.
Their captain defines their success story. Yussuf Poulsen, whom we wrote about here back in May, has played over half of the clubs matches in its entire existence. His work rate, hustle and dedication has inspired an ambitious group of individuals to become one of the best teams in Europe.
Their next oppenent, PSG, were set to miss out on the semi-final up until the 89th minute against Atalanta. Two late goals sealed the victory, but for the most part of the game, PSG did not flatter themselves. A handful of missed chances, lazy work ethic and poor communication lead to simple errors that often get punished at this stage of the competition. With Mbappe nearly fit again, the French side will surely look more dynamic and threatening - but it still doesn't make them crystal clear favourites. This is the first time they've reached the semi's since 1995.
It's unfamiliar territory for both sides.
Red Bull Leipzig have fewer stars, less experience in knock-out competitions, and are facing the best defensive side in the competition this year. Despite PSG being out of form up tops against Atalanta, they still kept the highest scoring team in Europe to just one solitary goal. If Atalanta could only manage one, perhaps RBL will struggle for goals too? PSG also knocked out Dortmund earlier in the campaign; a team that RBL couldn't top in the Bundesliga. It's going to be a test to fend off Neymar and Mbappe, both of whom are viable Star Player shouts and highly likely to take Top FWD given Poulsen's historically low PB.
Are they weaker without Werner?
Of course he was a huge part of RBL's success in the past few seasons. 34 goals, 13 assists in 45 games this season warrants huge respect. Nonetheless, Julian Nagelsmann has assembled a team of warriors, unsung heroes and foreign club want-aways to form a team that now has a genuine chance at reaching the Champions League Final regardless of their lack of standout stars.
For a team missing their prized striker though, they still created chances suffice to earn them victory in the quarter finals. 10 shots, 7 of which were from open play. They also looked dangerous from corners, played menacing balls in to Poulsen, and confidently worked the ball into dangerous areas.
Most notably, their offensive formation encouraged swift ball movement and driving runs from the back. On several occasions, Upamecano, Klostermann and Halstenberg would look to initiate a run through midfield. PSG played with next to no defensive work rate from their front three against Atalanta. If they repeat that against RB Leipzig, it would not be surprising to see the German side creating adventurous chances from deeper positions.
What does this mean for FI Traders?
There is no Neymar or Mbappe in RBL's side. It's a far less obvious squad to invest in, though there are some viable options on the table going forward.
In terms of investment opportunities, Red Bull Leipzig have had one of the best capital appreciation trends as a team over the course of the season.
The rise in their abilities are partly-credited to Werner, but on the whole Nagelsmann's system is what you're buying in to here. Players are extremely versatile in their roles on the field under the 33 year old manager.
A 4-2-3-1 defensively. A fluid 3-6-1 in possession. Unbelievable to observe.
We saw Konrad Laimer playing CDM and RWB against Atletico, whilst Dani Olmo's heat map indicates he roamed freely. There really are a host of options to create chances in the side, and although it makes it hard to spot an obvious investment, it does make for good viewing.
A STAR performance from Dayot Upamecano in their 2-1 win over Atletico earned a PB score of 225. For comparison, Kimpembe's Top DEF PB score in the 2-1 victory over Atalanta was just 185. There were also chances falling to Klostermann and Halstenberg, who combined have as many goal involvements (11) as the entire PSG back 4 plus Herrera this season - though PSG have of course played fewer domestic games.
Marcel Sabitzer is another notable player who has a fantastic PB history from this season:
Sabitzer's Top 5 PB scores: 320, 300, 299, 249, 228
The PSG comparison of Idrissa Gueye or Ander Herrera are utterly outclassed in this department. Even Marquinhos offers a lower peak PB comparison to Sabitzer - though he remains classed as a defender on FI. The Brazilian is in fact a good investment for as long as that continues, he's a great option with high avg. PB and eligible for clean sheet bonuses despite playing in the midfield. He's also picked up more goal involvements than the other two central PSG midfielders combined, so certainly one to watch.
Christopher Nkunku is another player that catches the eye. He recorded 15 assists in the Bundesliga this season, and despite his falling share value since Bundesliga ended, he still looks capable of goal involvements against the best defences in Europe. It would not come as a surprise to see him picking up an IPD against PSG.
With a gold matchday on the cards again, both TOP DEF and TOP MID looks hugely competitive against the French side. If the game as close as the respective quarter-finals were, we can see RBL players competing far closer for dividends than some may think. The only obvious area of concern is TOP FWD, as mentioned, which is unlikely to go to RBL given Poulsen is the sole starting forward. Poulsen's role is not prolific, nor attractive at the best of times, let alone when the PB matchup is Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
The likes of Nkunku, Upamecano, Olmo and Klostermann among others are all still young enough to anticipate capital appreciation in the coming years. If RB Leipzig are competing in the latter stages of Champions League football in seasons to come, they should rise with the market.
Meanwhile, Sabitzer and Halstenberg are both capable of putting up some very strong PB numbers whilst their age is pre-peak. They could well hold value and yield dividends over coming seasons.
Spread flipping some players is also on the cards. RBL Captain, Yussuf Poulsen, is still only 26 whilst his wide spread and low IS could have potential to yield a profit to a canny trader. If he can make himself a hero, regardless of PB dividends, there's a chance the spread could tighten - at such a low value it wouldn't be unreasonable to see his £0.63 IS rise north of £0.70 with more traders watching. That's a 10% profit including commission.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram @footballindexgurus and get involved with the community. Do you think Red Bull could compete with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday?