Red Bull Arena is the venue as Red Bull Salzburg and Bayern Munich go head-to-head in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Years of waiting are finally over for Salzburg. They have qualified for their first-ever Champions League knockout stage, only to be paired with one of the hottest competition favourites.
Although they head into this tie as underdogs, Salzburg, deemed one of Europe’s finest factories of talents, will try to give Bayern a hard time in Austria on Wednesday.
Coming into this fixture, Jaissle’s men pulled off a second-half comeback to beat fierce rivals Rapid Vienna 2-1 on the road, further lifting spirits in the dressing room.
By contrast, Bayern suffered an embarrassing 4-2 defeat at the hands of promoted Bochum in the Bundesliga despite fielding their best team at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion.
However, Julian Nagelsmann’s men have qualified for the Champions League knockout stage as one of only three sides to have won all six matches.
In addition to beating Barcelona in both Group E legs by an identical 3-0 scoreline, the Bavarians netted a staggering 16 goals across their remaining four group outings.
Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich Head-to-Head
Salzburg and Bayern met in last season’s Champions League group stage, with the perennial Bundesliga champions hammering their Austrian counterparts in both encounters.
Following an overwhelming 6-2 victory at this venue, the Munich-based outfit went on to claim another comprehensive 3-1 triumph in Germany, with star striker Robert Lewandowski scoring in both legs.
Red Bull Salzburg Preview
Salzburg will be up against their disappointing record against German opponents in European football of late, with just one win from their last six such fixtures (D1, L4).
They have conceded a whopping 18 goals across those six matches, at an average of three per game, which is a worrying sign for the home faithful.
On that basis, it is reasonable to assume that their backline will be severely tested against one of Europe’s hardest-hitting attacks, though Jaissle’s men are likely to have their say in the front third.
After netting 2+ goals in four of their last five competitive fixtures, Salzburg will likely be guided by the idea that ‘attack is the best form of defence.’
Noah Okafor has found the net in his last two Champions League appearances at the Red Bull Arena and could become Salzburg’s first player to score in three consecutive such outings.
Bayern Munich Preview
Bayern will be looking to replicate their 2019/20 feat when they won each of their opening seven matches in the Champions League, a milestone only achieved by Barcelona and Real Madrid, other than them.
Remarkably, since losing at Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017, the Bavarians have gone unbeaten in their last 21 Champions League games away from home (W17, D4).
They will likely be smelling blood again, having negotiated each of their previous three European knockout ties with Austrian opponents, most recently in the 1986/87 European Cup season.
While their backline has shown signs of weakness in the Bundesliga lately, Bayern’s record of three group stage goals conceded this Champions League campaign suggests they could be difficult to crack open.
As ever, they will turn to Lewandowski for delivering the goods at the other side of the pitch, with the Polish dynamo racking up an impressive 37 goals from 49 away appearances in the Champions League so far.
Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich Predicted Line-ups
Red Bull Salzburg (4-3-1-2): Philipp Kohn, Rasmus Nissen Kristensen, Oumar Solet, Maximilian Wober, Andreas Ulmer, Nicolas Seiwald, Nicolas Capaldo, Mohamed Camara, Brenden Aaronson, Karim Adeyemi, Noah Okafor.
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Sven Ulreich, Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Sule, Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez, Marcel Sabitzer, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski.
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