UEFA Champions League knockout football returns on Tuesday as Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos aim for another European run. We look ahead to their tie with our RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid prediction and preview.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer predicts that Real Madrid will win in the first leg of this UEFA Champions League last-16 tie, with Los Blancos triumphing in 43.5% of pre-match simulations.
- Jude Bellingham has either scored or assisted in all five of his Champions League appearances for Madrid so far.
- Real Madrid have lost just one of their last 15 Champions League matches against German sides (W10 D4), though that defeat came last season against Leipzig.
Real Madrid will be looking to seize an early initiative at the first hurdle of the UEFA Champions League knockout stages when they visit RB Leipzig on Tuesday at Red Bull Arena for the opening leg of their round-of-16 clash.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side breezed through Group C, recording a perfect six victories from as many games after beating Napoli, Braga and Union Berlin both home and away. Madrid averaged over two goals per game in their routine progression to the last 16, aided by convincing home victories over Braga and Napoli.
That six-game winning run is their longest in the competition since their 10-match streak of victories between April 2014 and February 2015, although that will matter little to Ancelotti and the Madrid supporters if they do not go deep in the Champions League once again, having been knocked out in the semi-finals to eventual winners Manchester City last season.
Madrid’s dominance in Europe this term can largely be credited to Jude Bellingham, who has either scored or assisted in all five of his Champions League appearances for Los Blancos so far following his move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. The England midfielder also leads the way for chances created following a carry (nine) and via a line-breaking pass (six), while no player has created more chances from open play in the competition overall this term than Bellingham (15).
Aided by their superstar Bellingham, alongside the likes of Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo in attack, Madrid will fancy their chances of extending an impressive knockout-stage record. They have progressed from 11 of their last 13 round of 16 ties in the Champions League, reaching at least the semi-final in each of the last three campaigns since elimination at this stage to Man City in 2019-20.
However, the draw for this round of UEFA’s top club competition was not seen as favourable for the La Liga leaders in Opta’s data simulations. Madrid saw their chances of lifting the trophy for a 15th time fall by 2.37% – the biggest drop of any remaining side – leaving them with a 12.9% of winning this coveted tournament when the draw was made. That has risen slightly to 14.8% at the time of writing.
As for Ancelotti’s lineup on Tuesday, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba, Antonio Rüdiger, and Éder Militão all remain as longer-term absentees. Vinícius and Eduardo Camavinga were both fit enough for Saturday’s resounding 4-0 victory over Girona in La Liga, though Bellingham limped off and Ancelotti will be without his star man due to an ankle injury.
In stark contrast to their visitors, this will only be RB Leipzig’s fourth appearance in the Champions League knockout stages and the first time they’ve not faced an English opponent in the round of 16. The Bundesliga club eliminated Tottenham on their way to reaching the semi-final in 2019-20, before being knocked by Liverpool in 2020-21 and eventual winners Manchester City last season.
Marco Rose’s side finished second behind Pep Guardiola’s defending European champions in Group G, losing twice to the Premier League side but defeating Young Boys and Crvena Zvezda both home and away to qualify for the last-16 draw.
Loïs Openda was the leading attacking figure for Leipzig in their group-stage run, scoring four Champions League goals. Only Christopher Nkunku, whose impressive returns in Europe secured his move to Chelsea, has ever netting more in a single campaign for the German side (seven in 2021-22).
As for the rest of Rose’s squad, experienced goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi recently made his Bundesliga return from injury, as did captain Willi Orbán, while Amadou Haidara is back from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Mali and Mohamed Simakan returned from domestic suspension in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Augsburg in the Bundesliga.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid Head-to-Head
Madrid have made light work of German sides in this competition in recent years, losing just one of their last 15 such Champions League matches, though that was a 3-2 group-stage loss to Leipzig last season.
Josko Gvardiol, Nkunku and Timo Werner were all on target for the Bundesliga side in that victory, in which Rodrygo and Vinícius Júnior also scored, though the Leipzig trio have since made Premier League moves to Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham respectively.
Madrid were 2-0 winners in the opening group-stage meeting between the two sides in September 2022 – the first time the pair met in the Champions League – as Federico Valverde and now-departed Marco Asensio scored.
The omens are positive for Ancelotti’s side as well, with Madrid’s strong record against German sides meaning the last such opponent to eliminate them in the knockout stages was Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 semi-final.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid Recent Form
Real Madrid’s perfect six-game European winning run may have Leipzig fearful for the last-16 encounter, while the La Liga leaders are also unbeaten in 27 straight matches across all competitions since their 3-1 reverse against fierce rivals Atlético Madrid back in September.
The defensive solidity of Rose’s side remains in question, too, with Leipzig failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 13 Champions League home games, since beating Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 in October 2020.
However, Leipzig have only failed to score in one of their 20 games in UEFA’s premier club competition at the Red Bull Arena, finding the net in each of their last 16.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off on Tuesday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid Prediction
Despite an encouraging showing to reach this round, RB Leipzig are seen as one of the biggest underdogs in the last-16 stage, with just a 28.5% chance of making it to the quarter-finals in the data-led predictions by Opta’s supercomputer.
Only Lazio (21.7%) against Bayern Munich and FC København (6.4%) versus Manchester City have smaller likelihoods of progressing, with Los Blancos going through to the next stage in 71.6% of 10,000 data-led simulations.
Ancelotti’s side win the first leg of this last-16 clash in 43.5% of the data-led predictions, while Leipzig triumph in just 31.9% and the draw occurred in 24.6%.
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid UCL Squads
RB Leipzig: Péter Gulácsi, Leopold Zingerle, Janis Blaswich, Timo Schlieck, Tim Köhler, Lukas Klostermann, Mohamed Simakan, El Chadaille Bitshiabu, Castello Lukeba, Benjamin Henrichs, Christopher Lenz, Willi Orbán, David Raum, Amadou Haidara, Nicolas Seiwald, Nuha Jatta, Kevin Kampl, Dani Olmo, Christoph Baumgartner, Eljif Elmas, Xaver Schlager, Xavi Simons, Yannick Eduardo, Yussuf Poulsen, Loïs Openda, Benjamin Sesko
Head Coach: Marco Rose
Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois, Kepa, Andriy Lunin, Lucas Cañizares, Diego Piñeiro, David Alaba, Nacho, Dani Carvajal, Antonio Rüdiger, Ferland Mendy, Éder Militão, Fran García, Álvaro Carrillo, Vinícius Tobias, Jacobo Ramón, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Lucas Vázquez, Dani Ceballos, Brahim Díaz, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Arda Güler, Nico Paz, Mario Martín, Joselu, Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo, Gonzalo García
Head Coach: Carlo Ancelotti