Dani Olmo and Xavi Simons regularly provide magical moments in the Leipzig game. The round of 16 of the Champions League against Real Madrid has a personal touch for both of them.
Xavi Simons and Dani Olmo learned to play football in “La Masia”, FC Barcelona’s legendary squad factory. For the Catalans, professionals like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, like Lionel Messi were the admired role models – and Real Madrid were the big, hated rivals. This Tuesday (9 p.m./Prime Video) Olmo (25) and Xavi Simons (20) will experience a kind of personal Clásico against the Royals in the jersey of Bundesliga club RB Leipzig.
“I expect them to be different players,” said coach Marco Rose before the game against the seemingly overwhelming opponent from Spain. The training of the duo, who have already made the Leipzig game shine several times this season, with the Catalans will certainly help.
Olmo and Simons grew up in La Masia
Olmo came to FC Barcelona at the age of nine. “They were stubborn and insisted,” it was once said. The offensive player stayed until 2014. A story from his youth: Because Olmo loved the ball so much, he was reluctant to interrupt a game to take a selfie with Messi. “These are memories that no one can take away from me,” he said.
He never regretted the courageous step to Dinamo Zagreb to get match practice in a professional team at the age of 15 and 16. He said he had “improved greatly both as a footballer and as a person.” “I am the player I am today thanks to the time I spent there.” The detour paid off. He went to Leipzig in 2020 for a fee of around 30 million euros – and is in demand like never before.
Simons, born in Amsterdam, was admitted to La Masia at the age of six. He played there for nine years before joining Paris Saint-Germain’s U19 team. Last summer, via a detour to PSV Eindhoven and back to Paris, he went on loan to Leipzig, where he is an integral part of the RB game.
“Xavi didn’t surprise me, we knew what kind of quality we were getting. But I’m surprised by his consistency, he’s developed further and taken the next step,” praised Rose. As is often the case in football, it remains to be seen how long his two creative minds will remain at the club.
Gulacsi: “We want to play emotionally and intensely again”
“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t my goal to play in my home country at some point,” Olmo said several times before extending his contract with the cup winners. Nevertheless, last year he extended it until June 30, 2027. However, with an exit clause. Leipzig would love to keep “El Mago”. With Xavi, sooner or later the question will arise as to how much Paris wants him back. First of all, the focus is on Real.
Olmo missed the last two meetings due to a torn medial ligament in his knee. In the 2-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in September 2022, Real won late thanks to two strokes of genius from Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio. In the second leg, Leipzig did better at home and won 3-2 – although the then defending champions had already qualified for the round of 16 early. “If you’ve already done it once, then you know you can do it again. We want to play with such emotion and intensity again and achieve a good result,” said RB goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
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