Stubborn Salzburg a big test: Marseille v Salzburg Europa League Preview

Salzburg travel to Marseille in a Europa League Semi Final on Thursday. Infogol’s Analyst previews the big game, using expected goals (xG) to generate the best bets.

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Marseille Expected Goals

Bookmakers make Marseille 4/6 favourites to emerge from the first leg of the Europa League Semi Final tie against Salzburg with a lead, and it’s easy to see how they have reached that conclusion given the French side’s dominance at the Stade Vélodrome this season.

They have won 10 and drawn five of their 17 home games in Ligue 1 this season, and have added three knockout wins in Marseille since the group stages of this competition.

However, that doesn’t tell the full story.

These two teams met in the group stage, drawing 0-0 in Marseille (xG: MAR 0.87 – SAL 1.06), with Salzburg winning by a narrow 1-0 margin in Austria (xG: SAL 1.26 – MAR 0.90).

Marseille v Salzburg shot map

Marseille fans will take some comfort from the fact that their most influential player Dimitri Payet missed the first of those games, and only came on in the 68th minute in the other. As well as three goals in the competition, the former West Ham man has four assists to his name and he will be crucial to their chance here.

Salzburg Expected Goals

It’s been a long and winding European road for Salzburg, the Austrian side having started their Champions League campaign back in early July with a pair of 3-0 wins over Hibs.

Though they failed to reach the group stages of that competition, going out on away goals to Croatian side Rijeka, Salzburg have since claimed some notable scalps in the Europa League, beating Real Sociedad, Borussia Dortmund and Lazio en-route to this Semi Final stage.

Most notably in those games, Salzburg conceded very few chances to their opponents. As well as those low numbers against Marseille shown above, impressive defensive displays were in evidence at home to Real Sociedad (0.64 xGA), Borussia Dortmund (1.07 xGA) and Lazio (0.90 xGA).

Salzburg v Sociedad shot map

Salzburg have only conceded 23 goals in 31 games in the Austrian Bundesliga (which they top by 11 points), and have only lost twice in that period, and it’s clear that they’ve been underestimated throughout this competition.

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Despite Marseille being dominant at home, Stade Vélodrome could be the scene for one of the season's more cagey games, as it was when these two sides met in the group stages. Under 2.5 goals is the recommendation.

Recommended bet:

Under 2.5 goals @ 5/4


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