It’s almost that time – the quarter finals of the Champions League!
Die Roten Bullen are one of the eight teams that have qualified for the final tournament in Lisbon and will meet former finalists Atlético Madrid on 13th August (21:00 CEST). The road to Lisbon has been an emotional rollercoaster made all the more challenging by strong competition and, most recently, the coronavirus break.
Our Swedish star fired us into the knockout stages for the first time with his last-minute double against Benfica in the group stage. Together, we look back on this magical moment before turning our attention to the upcoming quarter final.
Since his move to RB Leipzig in 2015, Emil has helped to fire the club from the Bundesliga 2 to the Champions League and on 13th August, he will take to the pitch in the most important game in the history of Die Roten Bullen.
Emil, your double against Benfica fired RB Leipzig to the round of 16 in the Champions League for the first time. Would you say that’s been the highlight of the season for you?
Yes I don't think you can argue with that, it was a wonderful moment! To achieve something like that with a team that you've been with for so long is a great feeling. So yes, a wonderful moment and one I will never forget.
From the Bundesliga 2 to the Champions League quarter final – that must be crazy right?
If you believe in something, anything is possible. We're certainly doing a lot of things right here. You will always have phases during the season where things won't go your way, for example at the end of this Bundesliga season. Since we’ve returned to training, I think we've looked really good. We can’t wait for the game against Atlético!
How important has the break been after this long season?
I think the break was important for the entire team to do something different and spend time with our families. It was a chance to focus on something other than football and have some downtime. You can tell that everyone has come back from the break fully motivated and fired up for the game!
On paper, we go into the game against Atlético as the underdogs. What do you think will be the decisive factor in breaking down Diego Simeone’s side?
Atlético are a very good side with a lot of players who have experience of the latter stages of the Champions League, but this is a one-off game and anything can happen. We have every chance of making the next round and we want to seize this opportunity with both hands!
How are preparations going ahead of the game?
I would say that the team is very relaxed. We're just enjoying the build-up, both on and off the pitch. I haven't got the impression that anyone is nervous, we're looking forward to such a big game! We've done so well so far and know what we're capable of. We just need to keep working hard, give our all and believe in ourselves and then anything is possible.
You are our top scorer in the Champions League – why does the competition suit you so well?
I love playing in the Champions League! It's the biggest and most important club competition in Europe so when you get the chance to play in it, you have to take it. I've managed to score a few goals, which is of course amazing. That's not what it's about though - it's about developing as a team, which we've done this year. That’s what really makes me proud.