The Champions League returns this week as RB Salzburg host Chelsea FC in an exciting encounter in Group E. The hosts head into the game in 2nd place with 6 points, 2 points clear of AC Milan in 3rd place. They remain unbeaten in the competition with a win and 3 draws heading into the fixture against an unbeaten Chelsea side who are yet to taste a defeat in their last 7 games in all competitions.
This will be a deciding game for both teams to clinch a place in the Round of 16 with Chelsea needing a win to book their place in the next stage. Salzburg will qualify if they win/draw against the Blues and AC Milan drop points against Dinamo Zagreb. The Austrian giants have shown that they can compete amongst the elite clubs in Europe and have their fate in their own hands ahead of a nail-biting game of football at the Red Bull Arena.
When and Where?
Date: 25th October 2022.
Time: 4:45 PM(GMT).
Venue: Red Bull Arena.
Red Bull Salzburg
The Austrian Bundesliga Champions have injury concerns heading into a crucial Champions League game with the absentee list increasing over the weekend during their 0-0 draw against SK Sturm Graz. Midfielder Luka Sucic was forced to come off with what looked like an adductor injury and the Croatian joins Ousmane Diakite(ACL), Justin Omoregie(hamstring), Sekou Koita(thigh), Fernando(thigh) and Dijon Kameri(shoulder) in the injury list for Matthias Jaissle’s side. Club captain Andreas Ulmer is set to make his return to the lineup after recovering from a knock. Benjamin Sesko, who was dropped last weekend, will spearhead the Salzburg alongside Noah Okafor, who scored on matchday 2 against the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
Graham Potter’s side will be without N’golo Kante, Wesley Fofana and Reece James with the trio out with long-term injuries. Kalidou Koulibaly did not travel with the first team squad to Austria with the Senegalese still not fully fit. Marc Cucurella who was suffering from tonsillitis last week has travelled with the squad but is likely to start on the bench after the Spaniard was taken off for Mateo Kovacic within the first 30 minutes against Manchester United on Saturday. Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja are expected to start replacing Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Aubameyang in the starting lineup.
Salzburg head into the game as second-favorites as the Austrian side have won just two of their last 9 games in the Champions League even though they are unbeaten at home since December 2020 with the likes of Bayern, Lille, AC Milan failing to win at the Red Bull Arena. The match day 2 reverse fixture saw Salzburg share the spoils with the Blues thanks to a 75th-minute Okafor equalizer cancelling out Raheem Sterling’s opener which was Graham Potter’s first-ever Champions League game and his first as Chelsea boss. Matthias Jaissle’s side were completely dominated by the Blues with the English side having 73% possession throughout the game and 17 shots taken.
If RB Salzburg are to strengthen their hopes of making it through to the next round, a similar showing will certainly not help the cause. Jaissle will have to head over to the tactics board to try and ponder on how his side can cause trouble to a resilient Chelsea defence which has conceded just 2 goals in their last 7 games. The game against Manchester United exposed a few weaknesses as their proactive pressing caused a lot of problems for the Blues. A similar pressing game could be replicated by Salzburg to outnumber the Chelsea defence in the final third with Okafor and Sesko leading the press using their pace and tactical awareness.
This game promises to be a great watch for the neutral fans with both teams looking to get all 3 points to cement their place in the group. The Blues have had two consecutive goalless draws and will want to improve their performance against a depleted Salzburg side who have got enough firepower to cause problems to the Blues.
The Cobham graduate has had to wait patiently for his chances to play for Potter as Aubameyang and Havertz have been occupying the striker position. The Albanian is expected to make his first-ever Champions League start and the 21-year-old will want to mark his debut with a goal. His aerial presence and physicality will certainly cause problems for the Salzburg defence who will have to watch out for the striker throughout the game. With a goal already to his name this season, all eyes will be on how Broja fares in the game as a good overall display would cause Potter a huge selection headache ahead of a busy schedule for the Blues before the World Cup break.
The Swiss forward has been in excellent form for his side in the Champions league with 3 goals in the group stage already. He will be up against Chelsea who are rumoured to be one of the suitors to sign the young talent next summer and has already impressed the Blues’ faithful with a goal at Stamford Bridge. The 22-year-old has scored 8 goals and provided 2 assists in all competitions leading the line for the Red Bulls. Even though he is up against a stubborn Chelsea defence, Okafor is the most likely player to score for his side if they find a way around the defence,
RB Salzburg predicted lineup vs Chelsea: Kohn; Dedic, Solet, Pavlovic, Ulmer; Kjaergaard, Gourna-Douath, Seiwald; Sucic; Okafor, Sesko.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs RB Salzburg: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Silva, Chilwell; Gallagher, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Pulisic, Havertz, Broja.