The Champions League playoff round kicks off this week with six games being played. On Tuesday night, Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg will travel to Israel to clash with Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv. Red Bull Salzburg made the group stage last season and made a great impression on the competition with games against Liverpool and Napoli. Coach Jesse Marsch will hope his exciting attacking team can perform well again and reach the tournament proper once more.
Maccabi Tel Aviv played in the first, second, and third qualifying rounds of the Champions League tournament. While Red Bull Salzburg were afforded a bye through to the playoff round, Maccabi Tel Aviv played three times winning to nil in all three fixtures. Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Riga 2-0, Suduva 3-0, and Dynamo Brest 1-0.
Although Red Bull Salzburg did not play in the Champions League qualifying rounds, they are in good form going into the game. The Red Bulls have posted two wins from two games in the Bundesliga and claimed a massive 10-0 win against Bregenz in the Austrian Cup. Over the weekends, Red Bull Salzburg defeated league rival Rheindorf Altach 4-1.
Marsch’s top players including Erling Haaland, Takumi Minamino and Hwang Hee-Chan all were all sold at different points last term. Red Bull Salzburg have retooled the side for the coach and they should be just as dangerous as before.
Red Bull Salzburg reached the group stage last term, but it won’t be easy to repeat the feat this time around. The good news for Red Bull Salzburg is that the playoff round is two-legged. While the previous qualifying rounds were merely one-off fixtures, the playoff round is two matches, home and away. This format gives the Red Bulls the chance to overcome any slip up in the first leg away in Israel.
Maccabi Tel Aviv have been brilliant defensively in the Champions League qualifying rounds. They kept three straight clean sheet wins. That trend should end on Tuesday night thanks to Red Bull Salzburg’s excellent attacking players.
Tuesday night’s game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Red Bull Salzburg will be the first ever match between the pair. It will be a historic occasion for both outfits. Red Bull Salzburg go into the game as the heavy favourites at odds of 4/11 according to leading sportsbooks. Maccabi Tel Aviv are 41/4. The odds show just how strong leading sportsbooks believe Red Bull Salzburg’s ability to score goals.
Maccabi Tel Aviv did have their match at the weekend postponed. As it stands, there have been no reports of COVID-19 in either squad. The Red Bulls did have a positive test reported two weeks ago following the international break. However, the player was removed from the squad at the time.
Striker Patson Daka is the latest star on the cusps of being sold by Red Bull Salzburg. Daka’s ascension into a top player is one of the reasons the likes of Haaland, Minamino, and Hwang were all sold for sizeable transfer fees. Daka has been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur. However, he could land at sister-club RB Leipzig next summer.
How strong is Red Bull Salzburg’s attack? Their 4-1 win against Rheindorf Altach over the weekend saw them win with just 10 men. Centre-back Ramalho was sent off in six minutes. The Red Bulls then conceded a goal on 33 minutes. From there, Red Bulls Salzburg scored four goals without reply. Two of their four goals came on either side of halftime.
According to the latest reports from both clubs, there are no new injuries to report. Both Marsch and opposing manager Vladimi Ivic should have full-strength squads for the first leg of their Champions League playoff round tie.
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Red Bull Salzburg showed last season that defence is their biggest issue. They can score against top teams in Europe – their Champions League group stage game against Liverpool was proof – but they struggle to keep teams out of goal. In two Bundesliga matches this season, Red Bull Salzburg conceded goals. Sure, they came back to outscore their opponents and win, but they did concede. Tuesday’s game should follow a similar trajectory.
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All three of Red Bull Salzburg’s games in 2020-21 have finished with over 2.5 goals. In fact, all three games saw over 3.5 goals tallied. The Red Bulls should see over 2.5 goals once more when they clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Marsch won’t change the team’s tactics for the game and Salzburg should go straight at their opponents in attack.
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Daka is a brilliant young goalscorer and teams are already lining up for yet another top product to come out of Red Bull Salzburg. Haaland was the most sought-after striker in Europa last January. He came from Red Bull Salzburg. Now, the club have Daka and could get more money for the striker than for Haaland. The 21-year-old Zambian striker has scored two goals in two league games while adding two assists. Against Bregenz in the Austrian Cup, Daka scored four times as Red Bull Salzburg thrashed their rival 10-0.
Don’t expect the Red Bulls to run away with the game on Tuesday night. Unlike the previous rounds, teams will play the long game. Both sides will feel they can rebound from a poor performance in the first leg before turning things on in the second leg. Red Bull Salzburg need an away goal or two. If they can win and get two or three goals while holding Maccabi Tel Aviv, then the second leg should be as good as won.
Red Bull Salzburg should win away from home with goals flying into the back of the net. Expect goals galore in a very entertaining match.
Bloomfield Stadium will host Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Salzburg on Tuesday in the Champions League.
The kick-off time for Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Salzburg is 20:00 on Tuesday 22 September.