Eight days ago, five weeks before the World Cup (November 20-December 18), Nkunku went through the operating room. No fear, however, for the coach of the Blues Didier Deschamps, in building his list (from 23 to 26 players) for the World Cup in Qatar, which he will announce on November 9. Since October 8, the current top scorer in the German championship (eight goals) has been disabled by a small crack in the scaphoid of his right wrist. After playing against Celtic in Glasgow (2-0 win) and Hertha Berlin (3-2 win) with a brace, he underwent surgery and returned on Saturday (coming on for the last half hour) to save RB Leipzig from sinking in Augsburg at grabbed a 3-3 draw after trailing 3-0, scoring their eighth goal from a superb free-kick.
“Obviously, with the arm, it’s not easy for him, but we saw that it’s fine to take free kicks and the rest wasn’t too bad,” Leipzig coach Marco Rose said on Monday. “He is an option for the start of the meeting”. The game in Augsburg illustrated once again Leipzig’s “Christo addiction” in this complicated and sluggish start to the season (8th place in the Bundesliga): without the eight goals scored (out of a total of twenty) by the former Paris SG player, would his team have six points less and would be stuck at the bottom of the standings.
Before the 10th day, the French international (8 caps) was even seven of the fourteen goals scored by the “Roten Bullen”, earning him the nickname “Monsieur 50%” in the weekly “Bild am Sonntag”, he who had been involved in 33 (20 goals, 13 assists) of his team’s 72 goals last season. If he gets a better start to the championship compared to the previous year, he will be less prominent in the Champions League. Named the best player in the Bundesliga for the 2021-2022 season by his peers, Nkunku this summer extended at Leipzig until 2026, despite strong interest from several English clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester United.
On Tuesday evening in the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, he will not have the opportunity to challenge his teammate in the French team Karim Benzema. The Ballon d’Or 2022 had missed the first match against Leipzig (Madrid 2-0 win) due to a right thigh injury and will be absent again in eastern Germany due to a “muscular fatigue in the quadriceps of the left leg”. Deprived of its centre-forward who guided it to a fourteenth Champions League last May at the Stade de France, Real Madrid is not without world-class players, although it will also be without his playmaker Luka Modric.
The two Brazilian prodigies Vinicius and Rodrygo perfectly compensate for the small health problems of the French goleador, so much so that the absence of the captain is only slightly felt. Already qualified, Real will try to secure first place in the group, while Leipzig hope to join the fight for the second ticket to the 8th.