Recommended viewing in Austria
In one of the more enticing Europa League last 32 ties, RB Salzburg host Unai Emery’s Villarreal this Thursday, I would recommend neutral viewing. As part of the Red Bull model Salzburg boast a host of outstanding young talents most recently seeing Dominik Szoboszlai join RB Leipzig this January, and there is plenty where that came from with an extraordinary scouting network particularly in African football. Jesse Marsch’s side finished third in their Champions League group for the second consecutive season, losing 2-0 to Atletico Madrid on the final matchday to seal their fate. They lost Erling Haaland in January last year, this time it was Szoboszlai but they are in a better position to push on in the competition this time around.
The Yellow Submarine
Having contested in and around the top four for the first half of the season, Villarreal have stuttered to sixth spot, now nine points off of Champions League qualification. A good run from Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona has seen them make way, this stretch gives them the opportunity to gather some momentum once again but in the Europa League and they certainly have the ability and experience to go deep in the tournament. Gerard Moreno remains a consistent performer at the top of the pitch and coupled with Paco Alcacer they have enough goals in the side to breach the Salzburg backline at least once.
Playing into the goals angle, Villarreal rank inside La Liga’s top six for expected goals for and in the top three for expected goals against. Often first leg affairs can be cagey and tactically cautious, but that is just not how Salzburg roll so there is value in an overs selection. With attacking runners from deeper positions expect the hosts to cause plenty of problems in the showpiece tie of the round of 32.
All but one of Salzburg’s Champions League group stage games saw over 3.5 goals, this could be epic.
- Salzburg have scored in nine of 10.
- Salzburg have conceded in six of 10.
- Salzburg have seen both teams score in five of 10.
- Salzburg have seen over 2.5 goals in seven of 10.
- Villarreal have scored in eight of 10.
- Villarreal have conceded in six of 10.
- Villarreal have seen both teams score in five of 10.
- Villarreal have seen over 2.5 goals in five of 10.
Salzburg are a very exciting team, they love to go for the jugular due to their relentless lack of experience, it will be a tricky proposition for Villarreal who I do however make favourites to qualify.