Leipzig to face Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League semifinals

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente, left, and RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara during their Champions League match at Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon, on Thursday. (Reuter)
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Updated 15 August 2020

Leipzig to face Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League semifinals

  • In Nagelsmann, 33, the club secured Germany’s brightest coaching talent, nicknamed ‘Mini Mourinho’

BERLIN: Leipzig’s shock quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid sees the German club facing Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League semifinals next Tuesday barely a decade since their creation.

Under Julian Nagelsmann, 33, a rising star among German coaches, Leipzig are also challenging Bayern Munich’s domination of the Bundesliga.

Leipzig were founded in 2009 when Red Bull took over the license of fifth-tier side SSV Markranstaedt, near Leipzig, renaming and rebranding the club.

The city of Leipzig was chosen under advice from Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, a friend of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

The team shot up Germany’s league pyramid with four promotions in seven seasons.

As recently as 2013-14, they were still in the third division.

They reached the Bundesliga in 2016-17, making a flying start by briefly keeping Bayern Munich from first place in the league table before finishing second.

However, their Bundesliga arrival was met with hostility by Germany’s established clubs, unhappy about their commercialism.

As the German Football League (DFL) insist a sponsor cannot appear in a club’s title, the fabricated German word RasenBallsport — literally “LawnBallsport” — make up the initials RB.

Under the league’s ‘50+1’ rule, clubs must hold a majority of their own voting rights, but all Leipzig members are Red Bull employees.

“There’s football being played to perform for a soda can,” grumbled Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke in 2016.

Leipzig had the last laugh by beating Dortmund 1-0 in only their second Bundesliga match.

“11 cans beat an 11 who bottled it,” retorted Leipzig’s then-boss Ralf Rangnick.

However, some German fans were as unimpressed as Watzke.

A severed bulls head appeared pitch side when Leipzig opened their 2016-17 season with a narrow German Cup win over neighbors Dynamo Dresden.

Protests by home fans followed when Leipzig played away, particularly at Cologne, Moenchengladbach and Dortmund.

Flags bearing insulting or threatening slogans aimed at Red Bull boss Mateschitz often appeared when the club visited.

Things got out of hand in February 2017 when a large group of Dortmund supporters attacked visiting RB fans, including women and children, resulting in 10 injuries.

Dortmund’s then-captain Marcel Schmelzer scolded their fans, “we don’t know you like that,” in a video message and a stand was closed for the next home game.

Leipzig have always resisted the urge to use Red Bull’s huge finances to buy established stars.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were both considered “too old, too expensive” by Rangnick back in 2016.

The policy remains of developing young talent.

After becoming one of the Bundesliga’s best central midfielders, Naby Keita was 23 when Liverpool signed him in 2018 for around €60 million ($70 million).

Timo Werner, 24, joined Chelsea in June after scoring 34 goals for Leipzig last season.

Captain Yussuf Poulsen, a veteran at 26, was signed in 2013-14 when Leipzig were in the third division.

In Nagelsmann, signed last season from Hoffenheim, Leipzig secured arguably Germany’s brightest coaching talent, nicknamed “Mini Mourinho.”

In the current squad, ex-Barcelona academy product Dani Olmo, 22, and US midfielder Tyler Adams, are both fulfilling promise after scoring on Thursday against Atletico.

RB Leipzig have made no secret of their desire to challenge the established order in German football by rivalling Bayern or Dortmund and finished third in 2019/20 to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

In each of their four seasons in Germany’s top flight, Leipzig qualified for Europe by finishing in the top six.

Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

Updated 22 September 2020

Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

  • The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus
  • Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport

ROME: Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor’s department in charge of the investigation said on Tuesday.
The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus.
“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him even before the test,” the prosecutor’s department said in a statement.
Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities. Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.
“But what do you think, that we’re going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word” of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian media.
Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can’t make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn’t know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.
The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.