Salzburg is making another attempt at reaching the Champions League groups after finishing five points behind Austria Vienna last season. It makes no difference who finishes first and second in the Bundesliga because both teams need to go through qualifying rounds before playing among the best European teams. Salzburg won nine out of the last 10 games and scored on average four goals per match, which is an impressive number even if most of the games were friendly ones.
The match that will probably linger longer in the fans memory is the crushing victory over Austria Vienna last weekend when they’ve destroyed the archrivals by five goals to one. Those who are wondering what starting formation will coach Schmidt used tonight, have nothing more to do than to check out the lineup of that particular encounter. There is absolutely no reason for making amends or changing anything in a formation that delivered such a convincing victory against a top opponent.
Kampl and Soriano are the most likely goal scorers tonight but the Austrian team shouldn’t underestimate their opponents, because Fenerbahce is one class about them. A narrow margin victory in Salzburg will probably not be enough for securing qualification, because the second leg will be played on one of the most hostile stadiums in Europe. In Istanbul, the Turks know how to create an incendiary atmosphere and keep the visiting team under constant pressure until they finally crack.
Better teams than Salzburg lost in Istanbul against Fenerbahce or Galatasaray and the key to advancing to the next stage is winning their home game by a considerable margin. This is the reason for why the host will come out firing on all cylinders from the first minute and will refrain from retreating back into their own half after scoring a goal. What coach Schmidt is aiming tonight is a victory by two goals or more, and in order to secure it he will probably need to keep three strikers on the field throughout the match.
By doing so, the hosts will expose themselves to lethal counterattacks launched by Fenerbahce, a club with high expectations but rather disappointing results lately. The Turks have invested a lot of money in prominent players and purchased Kuyt, Sow and Webo trying to outshine Galatasaray in the domestic championship while tasting European glory. So far none of these objectives were a hit and the strikers are aging quickly so this is one of their last chances to propel the team to the Champions League.
Risk-averse players who don’t want to take any chances by wagering on the winner, have a less risky alternative at their disposal. This is the type of game that is very likely to end in a scoring festival, as both teams have plenty of options up front and are highly motivated to win. Given the fact that Salzburg can’t settle for a narrow margin victory, wagering on more than 2.5. goals to be scored is arguably the best bet.