RB Leipzig’s victory over Manchester United on Tuesday not only propelled the German side into the Champions League knockout stages it also proved their run to last year’s semifinals was no fluke, said coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Needing a win to advance from Group H, Leipzig powered to a 3-0 lead before a late United comeback, with two goals in the final 10 minutes, almost scuppered their chances of reaching the last 16. They hung on for a 3-2 win that saw United eliminated.
Paris St Germain, who defeated Leipzig in last season’s semis, are also through, though they have to play the remainder of Tuesday’s suspended game against Istanbul Basaksehir later on Wednesday.
Nagelsmann said beating United would come as a psychological boost to his side.
“The win is very important for the boys so that they realise that we were not a one-hit wonder last year (season), that we advanced again to the knockout stage,” Nagelsmann said.
“It is also important to keep players at the club and to find new players.”
Nagelsmann’s exciting brand of football which took them to the brink of last season’s final has been further improved, despite the departure of top striker Timo Werner.
Nagelsmann said those watching the game on television saw Leipzig lay down a marker for young clubs by remaining in Europe’s elite club competition over the winter.
The knockout rounds begin in February, though Leipzig will have to wait for the result of PSG’s game to see if they finish top or second in the group.
Leipzig are on 12 points but PSG will top the group with a win over Basaksehir as they have a better head-to-head with the Germans.
Nagelsmann said his team had matured from last season, dropping fewer points against weaker opponents in the Bundesliga and Europe.
They were also able to thrive despite a demanding schedule, coming into the United game on the back of a gruelling 3-3 draw with Bayern Munich but showing no signs of fatigue.
“In the league we have not dropped too may points and the players have matured and are hungry,” said the 33-year-old. “The boys believe in themselves and they just keep marching.”