Tottenham vs RB Leipzig: Jose Mourinho and Julian Nagelsmann to lock horns in North London
By Gary Cotterill, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 19/02/20 6:04am
Jose Mourinho had won a Champions League by the time he was 41 - Julian Nagelsmann has nine years to equal that achievement and odds are he might just do it, writes Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill.
Wednesday night's last-16 first-leg tie between Tottenham and RB Leipzig is being dubbed by some as "Master vs Apprentice "or "Mourinho vs Mini Mourinho".
Nagelsmann isn't keen on that terminology, saying when asked about it: "Eight years ago Tim Wiese, a former Hoffenheim goalkeeper, called me Baby Mourinho, but after only two weeks I was just Julian again.
"Tomorrow it's Leipzig versus Tottenham, not Mourinho versus Mini Mourinho."
Modestly, perhaps forbids. He may not like comparisons with the Special One, but there is little doubt Nagelsmann is a highly-talented young coach, and there are lots of similarities with Mourinho.
Those start with their instantly forgettable playing careers, Nagelsmann's being curtailed at U19 level by a series of knee injuries.
Both are not short of self-belief. Both made rapid progress up the coaching ladder and both have a reputation for training ground innovation.
After steering Hoffenheim from bottom four to top four, Nagelsmann's name was being mentioned in the same breath as Real Madrid when a managerial vacancy at the Bernabeu came up.
He ended up at Leipzig instead, taking the job last summer. They currently sit second in the Bundesliga, just a point behind Bayern Munich. His impressive start, winning six of his first seven games, saw him linked with the Spurs job, before Mauricio Pochettino was replaced by Mourinho.
A link Mini Mourinho denies.
"Were you almost here last year as Spurs head coach?" I asked him. "Me? No!" And he was emphatic.
Nagelsmann had much more to say about Jose.
"I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won a lot of great titles including two Champions Leagues. He's made a major mark in European football with some big clubs. This will be his 59th knockout game in Europe and it's only my first, so obviously I respect him."
Mourinho has similar respect for Nagelsmann.
"Hoffenheim before he did very well. Next step Leipzig. Doing very well. If he goes in the same direction the next step will be even bigger. I wish him obviously the best," Jose said.
Some experts though believe Nagelsmann is more a Mini Pep Guardiola than a Mini Mourinho.
"If you compare his tactics with anyone it's more Guardiola than Mourinho," Sky Germany's Jessica Libbertz said.
"If you see the football Mourinho plays it's not the most attractive, even though it's successful. Whereas the football RB play is highly attractive, very high speed."
As he delivered his pre-match thoughts to the media, from a chair usually occupied by Jose Mourinho, Julian Nagelsmann was wearing a tracksuit top with the initials 'JN' on his chest.
If you didn't look closely you would have sworn it was 'JM'.