RB Leipzig will make their UEFA Champions League bow when they host AS Monaco at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
The Germans’ reward for qualifying for the group stage for the first time in their short history will be a matchday one encounter with the French champions.
An exciting Monaco side reached the semi-finals of this competition last year but fell to runners-up Juventus over two legs.
Porto take on Beşiktaş in the other Group G meeting this week.
RB Leipzig make European debut:
RB Leipzig might not be the most liked team participating in this season’s edition of the Champions League due to their corporate backing but they made many friends with their football last term.
In their debut season in the Bundesliga, the Red Bull-owned outfit finished second to champions Bayern Munich in the league under the stewardship of Ralph Hasenhüttl.
Die Bullen have retained the majority of their star players over the summer including the likes of German international Timo Werner and Naby Keïta - who will join Liverpool next season.
The pair were instrumental in the club’s recent league win away to Hamburger SV - their second victory of the season - with Keïta and Werner netting the only goals of the game.
The latter has been in fantastic form for club and country of late having scored six goals in his last four games in all competitions.
Werner will be making his Champions League debut on Wednesday as will a plethora of other Leipzig players. Only four in the eastern German outfit’s squad have experience at this level - Emil Forsberg plus new signings Bruma, Jean-Kevin Augustin and Kevin Kampl have 31 UCL appearances between them in contrast to Monaco’s 236.
This will be an afterthought for those involved, with RB Leipzig very much aware of the threat they can cause a weakened Monaco side.
Leipzig have already tasted defeat this season and will be adamant to avoid a similar experience on their big night.
AS Monaco looking to replicate last season’s success:
AS Monaco produced some of the most scintillating football in the Champions League last term as the French giants reached the semi-finals for the first time since 2004.
Les Rouges et Blancs might have lost to eventual runners-up Juventus but their young team raced away to the Ligue 1 title at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain.
Leonardo Jardim’s side started this season in equally emphatic fashion with four wins out of a possible four - scoring a league high 14 goals and conceding just four.
Their impressive 24-game unbeaten run in the league came to end last weekend, however, as the champions fell apart at Nice in a 4-0 defeat.
This was the first time in 37 Ligue 1 games that Monaco had failed to score. A Mario Balotelli brace and a dynamic Jean Michaël Seri performance helped put the visitors to the sword ahead of their crucial Champions League opener.
AS Monaco will still be a force to be reckoned with this season in both domestic and European competitions with star players Radamel Falcao, Tomas Lemar, Fabinho and Jemerson all expected to start in Germany.
Leipzig without Keïta, Monaco missing Lemar:
The hosts are likely be without influential midfielder Naby Keïta for their Champions League debut with the 22-year-old struggling with a groin injury sustained against Hamburg last Saturday.
Record signing Kevin Kampl or Stefan Ilsanker are expected to replace the Guinea international - who scored eight and assisted as many in the Bundesliga last term - in the starting XI.
Emil Forsberg, who lead the assist charts in Europe’s top five leagues in 2016/17, is set to be available to Ralph Hasenhüttl.
Monaco’s only notable absentee is Thomas Lemar, who has been ruled out due to a thigh strain. The coveted winger has two assists this term and will be a miss for the visitors. Young goalkeeper Loïc Badiashile remains on the sidelines.
Both managers wary of opposition threat:
In his pre-match press conference, RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhüttl spoke of the added responsibility Champions League football brings and the threat Monaco poses in attack.
“The competition feels like a bonus to us, but at the same time we sense responsibility.” Said the German.
“We represent not only RB Leipzig tomorrow evening, but the entire German football. We know that high expectations are placed on us but I am convinced that we will make a good performance.
“We are facing Monaco, an opponent who has a very well-balanced squad and brings many strengths to Leipzig, but we do not need to hide. We need to play with freedom."
His opposite number, Leonardo Jardim, also spoke highly of the opposition and how challenging getting out of Group G will be.
"It's a new challenge for us. No French club has ever won here, but what counts is the present." Said the Portuguese manager.
“Leipzig won the championship last year and I know the young team well. There are four teams of quality with very good players, it is a very balanced group, each match will be a very strong challenge.”
It promises to be a close affair involving two very well-matched teams on Wednesday evening but only one can get their Champions League campaign underway with a win on this historic night at the Red Bull Arena.