RB Leipzig (+136) vs Monaco (+220), Draw (+264)
Both RB Leipzig and Monaco achieved something they weren’t meant to last season. Monaco won their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years, ending Paris Saint-Germain’s four-season streak, while RB Leipzig managed to finish second (albeit a very distant second) in their Bundesliga debut. The two clubs face each other at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena for the first Group Stage match of the 2017-18 Champions League season on Wednesday, September 13th.
The similarities between these teams run deep. Both clubs boast remarkably young rosters, with an average age under 25, and they both have some serious financial backing while lacking the reputation to attract established world-class players. So instead they pay top dollar for the best young prospects and create an environment where they can thrive.
However, as we saw over the summer transfer period, all their hard work can be snatched away in an instant. Monaco was forced to let go of some of the most promising young players in world football. Benjamin Mendy (€57.5 million) and Bernardo Silva (€55 million) left for Manchester City; Tiemoué Bakayoko (€40 million) was picked up by Chelsea; and worst of all, star striker Kylian Mbappe was loaned to rival Paris Saint-Germain.
Defending the Ligue 1 title against PSG was always going to be a tough task for the young Monaco side, but now with their star playing for the opposition (alongside Neymar) it’s going to be almost impossible. Monaco poached a few young players, like Lazio’s Keita Baldé (€30 million) and Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (€25 million), but it doesn’t compensate for their losses.
On the other side, RB Leipzig had a pretty uneventful transfer period. They picked up Leverkusen midfielder Kevin Kampl (€20 million) and PSG’s Jean-Kévin Augustin (€16 million), while letting go of winger Oliver Burke (€15.2 million). All sizable transfers, but nothing to really write home about.
Monaco had an amazing Champions League campaign last season, defeating Tottenham twice in the Group Stage and eliminating Manchester City and Dortmund on their way to the semifinals. But that was the Monaco of last season. With so many of their star players gone, their outlook for 2017-18 isn’t as rosy. RB Leipzig managed to hold on to their star players and they have some serious talent among their ranks.
Pick: RB Leipzig (+136)