x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 November 2017

Monaco draw shows RB Leipzig 'can compete in Champions League football'

'We have made our first steps here,' says manager Hasenhuettl following 1-1 result on debut.

Leipzig's Emil Forsberg scored his side's only goal against Monaco. Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
Leipzig's Emil Forsberg scored his side's only goal against Monaco. Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

RB Leipzig have shown that they can compete at the top level of European football, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said after the German club's 1-1 draw with Monaco on their Uefa Champions League debut on Wednesday.

"We have made our first steps here. We played well against a strong opponent, and showed that we can compete at this level,” Hasenhuettl said. "It was a good start from us all, and it makes us want more."

Leipzig picked up a point from their first ever Champions League fixture, after Emil Forsberg’s first-half opener was quickly cancelled out by Monaco’s Youri Tielemans.

Highlights from game

The Leipzig manager conceded that he felt his team could have taken all three points against Monaco, and said that both he and his players had been cautious as they made their first foray into Champions League football.

"I think everyone noticed that we weren’t as calm on the ball and that we didn’t take as many risks as usual.

"I chose not to bring on another forward towards the end, because it’s always possible to concede from set pieces, and Monaco showed towards the end that they could be dangerous.”

The cautious approach, Hasenhuettl said, was partly down to the absence of Liverpool bound midfield star Naby Keita, who was ruled out of Wednesday’s fixture with a groin injury.

"We did miss Naby. If he had been there, then we probably would had a bit more stability and a bit more penetration going forward. To get a point without him is a great achievement.”

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It is nearly 30 years since the city of Leipzig, where the German Football Federation was founded, has hosted a game in European club competition. The historical significance, Hasenhuettl said, had not escaped him and his team.

"The atmosphere gave us goosebumps tonight,” striker Timo Werner said. “We really wanted to win, but Monaco defended well.”

"I also noticed that the expectations were high, and the people of Leipzig were excited to see a game at this level,” Hasenhuettl said. “For us it was obviously something special.”

The Austrian even broke with his usual touchline dress code of tracksuit and trainers, donning a suit to mark the occasion of Leipzig’s Champions League debut.

"The players started laughing when I came to give the team talk, because they’re not used to seeing me in a suit.”

Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, meanwhile, said his team’s lack of potency going forward was down to the personnel changes he had endured during the summer, most notably the departure of Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain.

"Every season, it’s different,” Jardim said. "It’s a new team. You can’t compare this team to the one we had last season or the one we had two seasons ago."