Red Bull Salzburg will look to advance to the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in their history today (3pm ET Wednesday). Standing in their way will be the 2014 and 2016 finalists Atletico Madrid. Can the hosts cause an upset and send the Spaniards packing? Read on for USAbetting’s full preview Salzburg vs Atletico Madrid predictions and betting picks.
Visitors with the upper hand
As things stands in Group A, it is today’s visitors who are in the more favorable position. Diego Simeone’s men go to Austria with six points on the board, and they are currently in that all important second qualification spot. Crucially, they’re two points in front of Salzburg, so a draw will suffice for the Spanish side. If the Austrians are to progress, then they will need to topple an Atletico side that is famously tough to beat.
Home record leaves something to be desired
It has been anything but straightforward in Group A, though Salzburg are still in the fight, thanks largely to their win away in Moscow last week. However, a rather weak home record doesn’t exactly bode well ahead of a game against a side that is anything but easy to get at. Last time out at this venue (in Europe), Jesse Marsch’s men suffered a heavy defeat, losing by six goals to two against Bayern. They were always going to struggle against the sharp attack of the Germans, though the way in which they collapsed at the back is a cause for concern.
As far as this fixture goes, it is easy to see the home team being met with a struggle, mainly down to their expansive, attack-minded approach. Salzburg have the players to hurt teams, but there’s being able to hurt teams and then there’s being able to penetrate a defence as stubborn as Atletico’s can be. Moreover, if the Austrians insist on adopting an attacking approach, then they could be in for a rough ride against a visiting side that knows only too well how to strike on the break.
Getting the job done
If there’s one team in Europe that knows how to grind out a result when it matters, then it’s probably the well-drilled Atletico, who over the last decade have made a habit of sucking the life out of opposition attacks before landing a decisive counter punch. What’s more, Simeone’s side are specialists at avoiding defeat when considered favorites against so called lesser opposition, not losing in the Champions League when shorter than their opposition in the betting since 2017.
What we learned from the reverse fixture
When the teams met earlier in the campaign, Atletico secured what was a predictable victory, as they confirmed odds-on favoritism, though there was nothing too convincing about the win. The Spaniards scored three times en route to victory, but they also conceded twice. Salzburg proved that they have got plenty about them offensively on that occasion, but as touched on in this preview above, we saw how susceptible they are to the counter. We also saw that when push comes to shove, Marsch’s men can be knocked over quite easily.
On that occasion, Atletico not only bettered their opponents in terms of goals scored, but they also topped the Austrians when it came to both shots for and shots on target for. Simeone’s side also won the battle for chances created, posting 2.6 expected goals for, conceding 1.3. They are now playing away from home, but such stats make it hard to go against the visitors.
Atletico worth supporting
This is a must win game for Salzburg, who have firepower, but breaking down a resolute visiting rear-guard won’t be easy. Atletico have kept a clean sheet in three of their last six on the road and have conceded more than once in just one of those six. Their recent shutout away against Valencia should mean that the Spaniards go to Red Bull Arena confident of getting the job done. When we add in that the hosts are very susceptible to the counter, a tactic that is likely to be used by Diego Simeone’s side, a visiting win starts to make plenty of appeal at odds of +107.
Attractive player prop
For those who’d rather get behind a single player to have a profitable night in Salzburg on Wednesday, Atletico striker Joao Felix stands out as a more than viable ‘anytime scorer’ candidate. The young Portuguese striker has been used on and off domestically this term, but he has been the go-to man in Europe, starting each of his side’s five group matches. In those five games, the forward, who averages 4.04 shots per 90 minutes in the Champions League this term, has scored three goals. In addition, the 21-year-old averages a rather impressive 0.61 expected goals per 90 in this competition, as well as 1.61 shots on target.
These are our Red Bull Salzburg vs Atletico Madrid predictions for this USAbetting UCL match preview: