Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Prediction: Olympique Marseille vs RB Salzburg

Verdict: Over 2,5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: 888sport

The semifinal between Atletico Madrid and Arsenal might grab most of the headlines when it comes to the UEFA Europa League, but fans shouldn’t forget about the other two teams vying for a spot in the final. Both Olympique Marseille and RB Salzburg have enough merits to be among the Top 4 teams in the competition, and both will meet this Thursday in the first leg of the 2018 UEFA Europa League semifinals. The first game will be at Stade Velodrome, and kick-off will be at 20:05 BST.

Olympique Marseille

Olympique Marseille had a tough path to reach the semifinals and at one point they seemed set to get eliminated against RB Leipzig, but the French giants pulled a huge comeback in the second half to earn a big 5-2 win in the second leg. That result gave them the berth in the Final Four of the competition, and it’s not like they have had an easy path before. After all, Olympique also defeated Sporting Braga in the 1/16 finals, and enter this game on top form three straight games – and four unbeaten matches – across all competitions. It remains to be seen whether that would be enough to reach the final, but one thing is certain. The Ligue 1 side gets into this game with both their morale and form at the top, and they will try to respect their home-field advantage to build a solid lead in the first leg of this tie.

Team News

Marseille won’t have a key piece on defence due to Hiroki Sakai’s knee injury.

Steve Mandanda (thigh) and Boubacar Kamara (ankle) are both doubtful. However, it seems unlikely that either will play in this one.

RB Salzburg

Is it too late to say that RB Salzburg have been the biggest surprise of the competition? The current Austrian Bundesliga champions are clear underdogs entering this tie, but that shouldn’t mean anything negative for them going forward. They have been labelled like that during the entire tournament, and they have defied expectations time and time again. They advanced in the Group Stage undefeated, but left their best football for the knockout stages where they defeated Real Sociedad, Borussia Dortmund, and Lazio. It is worth noting that they have only one defeat in their six knockout matches, but they left their best form for the tie against Lazio. The Austrian side turned a 4-2 away loss into a 4-1 home win, and that was enough to reach the semifinals. For what is worth, Salzburg arrive into this game with four straight wins across all competitions, and a pretty solid record (W6, D2, L2) in their past 10 matches.

Team News

RB Salzburg do not have confirmed absentees ahead of this game.

Two players that could be out of this game are Amadou Haidara (foot) and Cristoph Leitgeb (unspecified). Both players have been listed as doubtful, and will require a late-fitness test to determine their availability.

Key Factors to Consider

  • RB Salzburg have only one defeat in their last six Europa League matches.
  • Olympique Marseille have excelled at home in the Europa League. The French side has played eight home matches during the current competition, and have not lost yet.
  • These two sides already met in the Group Stage this season. Salzburg won the home tie 1-0, while holding Marseille to a 0-0 draw in the return game.
  • Marseille’s record against Austrian sides is balanced, with two wins, two draws and two losses.
  • Salzburg’s only two-legged knockout tie they have had against French opposition resulted in their elimination. They suffered a 2-1 aggregate defeat to OGC Nice last year.

Conclusion

Marseille have scored at least two goals in four of their last five home games. Meanwhile Salzburg have netted twice in three of their last five away matches, including their latest Europa League game.

Make no mistake. This game should be a goals galore with over 2,5 goals scored.

Verdict: Over 2,5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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