Yussuf Poulsen has shaken off an ankle injury and is ready to slot in for Timo Werner and help provide the goals for RB Leipzig in Thursday’s Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid.
After scoring 34 times last season, including four in the Champions League, Germany striker Werner quit Leipzig to sign for Premier League side Chelsea in June.
Despite permission from Chelsea, Werner turned down the chance to play for Leipzig in the quarter-finals in order to focus on settling into life in London.
In his absence Poulsen, who has recovered from an ankle injury in May, is set to partner on-loan Czech forward Patrik Schick in Lisbon.
«We know that we can’t completely replace Timo one to one,» Poulsen told AFP subsidiary SID.
«But I also know that the coach has a lot of ideas on how we can approach this and be at least as effective in Lisbon as we were in our previous Champions League games.
«As long as I’m in the starting eleven, I always agree with the coach,» he joked.
Leipzig were only founded in 2009 and are in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the first time.
After beating Tottenham in the last 16, they are eager to extend their run under ambitious head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Despite being just 26, Poulsen has spent seven years at Leipzig and has come up with them from Germany’s third division to Europe’s top table.
The Denmark international has scored 63 goals and created 51 more in 250 appearances for the club from Germany’s east.
He has the distinction of being the first Leipzig player to score a Bundesliga hat-trick, doing so against Hertha Berlin in March 2019.
Now, after weeks of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic between February’s last-16 win and the quarter-final, Poulsen said the Germans are ready to face an experienced Atletico side.
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– Title aspirations –
– Title aspirations –
«We’re all really looking forward to the game,» said the Dane.
«We’ve worked hard for it and we’re happy that we can finish it.
«There were times when that wasn’t certain, so it’s a great feeling to be in Lisbon.
«Once you’re there, you must have the determination to go all the way to the final and the title.»
Under Diego Simeone, Atletico are hunting their first Champions League title after losing the 2014 and 2016 finals to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
«Those responsible have been doing a very good job at Atletico for many years,» said Poulsen.
«Of course Atletico is the favourite, we are more the underdog.
«We’re in the Champions League quarter finals for the first time, they’ve always been fully involved for the last eight, ten years.
«But, of course, we have a chance and we believe we do.»
Under Nagelsmann, RB Leipzig play a brand of attacking football and big things are expected from their talented Spanish attacking midfielder Daniel Olmo, a product of Barcelona’s youth academy.
In contrast, Atletico have earned a reputation for tough defending with their back four notoriously hard to break down, as Liverpool found to their cost in the last 16.
«Yes, there are a few differences, but whoever says that Atletico only sit deep and defend, only knows the team partially,» warned Poulsen.
«They can also push very high, but are very well trained to prevent a goal from being scored.
«We can learn from that too.»