THE Europa League has been a very exciting competition this season, but sadly we are almost at the end of the tournament. A place in next season's Champions League is at stake and our man Ross Casey (@RossCasey24) previews the second leg semi-final encounter between Salzburg and Marseille.
Salzburg v Marseille | Thursday 3rd April 2018, 20:05 | BT Sport
This semi-final is between two sides that love to score goals, so it should be an entertaining encounter. The bookies have made Salzburg the clear favourites to win at a best price of 11/10 with William Hill – but the Ligue 1 side are 2-0 up from the first leg and looking to be the first side to win in Salzburg this season.
As I’ve already highlighted when previewing Salzburg’s Europa League games in the past, they are one tough cookie to crack. They have lost just two of their 13 Europa League games this season and as I have pointed out – they are undefeated at home this season in all competitions. That is a 25 match unbeaten run that includes the likes of Real Sociedad, Dortmund and Lazio.
They defeated Marseille at home earlier in the season 1-0 but that scoreline wouldn't be enough to take them through this time around! Home advantage here does sway me to fancy a win for Salzburg because of that imperious record and a defence that has conceded just 11 in 25 matches on home soil.
As a point of reference to compare – they have played eight away games in this competition, keeping a clean sheet just twice and have let in nine in their last four Europa League matches on the road!
I am actually somewhat surprised to see them odds against when you consider Salzburg have won 18 of their 25 home matches this season – a percentage of 72 percent!
The Ligue 1 side come into this fixture full of confidence with a six match unbeaten run that includes a 2-0 win over Salzburg from the first leg. Goals are certainly not hard to come by for them at present, with 16 put away in their current run of results.
It is quite interesting that they lost 1-0 here earlier in the season, will it play on their minds or will Marseille go for the much needed away goal that would surely put this tie to bed? I assume that they will be looking to be dangerous on the counter with the likes of Florian Thauvin using his pace.
The betting angle
Marseille will be fully aware of the fact that Salzburg have not lost any of their 25 home matches this season and of course, will remember their 1-0 defeat at their stadium, so they know full well that Salzburg are capable of turning around the deficit here.
I don't think sitting back and soaking up the incoming pressure suits Marseille, so I am backing Salzburg to get into them early and take a half-time lead at 13/10 with Betway just as they have done in three of their last four home fixtures.
Salzburg v Marseille – Salzburg first half result (13/10 Betway)