For not the first time this season, Borussia Dortmund laid an egg at home in the first leg. In the second leg to come on Thursday night, they will fighting from behind and will know that it will take at least two goals to move on toward the Europa League quarterfinals.
Red Bull Arena Salzburg, Wals-Siezenheim, Austria
Key Stat: Salzburg have won seven matches in a row ahead of this second leg.
Expert Verdict: Borussia Dortmund struggled away from home in the last round with Atalanta, and now they will face an even bigger challenge. Against the Italians, they were a goal ahead. This time around, they will go to Austria being a goal behind. The positive is that they are just a goal down having made a nice comeback to put themselves back within a chance of progression.
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Marco Rose looks set to have a full team to pick from for this second leg at home to the 'bigger' German side.
For another week, the man to watch is firmly going to be Valon Berisha. The Kosovo international scored two great goals last week to give the Austrian side an unexpected victory in front of the Yellow Wall. One of them was a very good penalty, and the second goal was a shot rifled into the roof of the net. He is a huge threat, and he will be even more so seeing as how they can play on the counter and force BVB to come at them.
Salzburg have a draw and four wins in their last five matches:
2-2 draw at Mattersburg
1-2 win at Borussia Dortmund (UEL)
1-0 home win vs Rapid Vienna
7-0 home win vs Austria Klagenfurt (Cup)
2-4 win at Sturm Graz
Defenders:Lainer, Ramalho, Caleta-Car, Ulmer
Midfielders:Haidara, Samassekou, Berisha, Schlager
Peter Stoger will be missing right back Erik Durm, winger Andriy Yarmolenko, attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa, and center mid Sebastian Rode due to injuries. Right back Jeremy Toljan, who has recently had the flu, is a doubt as well.
Much like Dortmund's season as a whole, Christian Pulisic has been a little down. The young American has found it much tougher to find form, but he has done so in the last week with two key assists to help his team to wins in two different competitions. His assist to Schurrle in last week's first leg gave them some hope as they cut the deficit to just one, and it gives them a much better chance to be back within a chance and to have him in some semblance of form again.
BVB have a win, a loss, and three draws in their last five matches:
3-2 home win vs Eintracht Frankfurt
1-2 home loss vs RB Salzburg (UEL)
1-1 draw at RB Leipzig
1-1 home draw vs Augsburg
1-1 draw at Atalanta (UEL)
Defenders:Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Schmelzer
Defensive Midfielders:Weigl, Dahoud
Attacking Midfielders:Pulisic, Reus, Schurrle
This match will be the second meeting between these two sides, and it will once again see Borussia Dortmund going away in need of a result. RB Salzburg got off to a grand start with a quickfire double from Valon Berisha in the second half before Andre Schurrle scrambled home a goal to put them back in the tie.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
RB Salzburg are at 23/10 to win, a draw is at 23/10 as well, and a Borussia Dortmund win is at 6/5.
Salzburg have a comfortable lead at the top of the table in the Austrian Bundesliga, with them in dominant form of late. They can truly go out and make a full effort in this match to go through and still look good to have a chance to qualify for the Champions League. This is one of the best teams in Europe that are not recognized. As for Borussia Dortmund, they are one of those teams that are fighting amongst each other (and with their own consistency) in the German Bundesliga for spots in the Champions League. This would have to be seen as an embarrassment of sorts if they were to go out to an Austrian side, but that could well be the case if they don't right the ship.
RB Salzburg started European play this season way back in July in the Champions League. They ended up winning their first tie, but they lost out on away goals with ever losing to be knocked out. From there, they won a playoff to make it to the group stages. They have yet to lose a single European match all season now as well, a record that very few teams can even claim to have. They had came through a group with Vitoria Guimaraes, Marseille, and Konyaspor. In the last round, they defeated tough Spanish side Real Sociedad to move on. BVB started, of course, in the UCL group stage. They ended up in third in a group with Tottenham and Real Madrid due to poor results against APOEL and other issues. Once in the UEL, they narrowly overcame Atalanta to move on to this stage.
At home, Salzburg have been nearly impervious this season. The Austrians have 15 wins and seven draws in 22 matches. They have yet to lose, unless you were to count a friendly, which simply doesn't seem fair in this instance. That, combined with the fact they have yet to lose in Europe, will have them quietly confident approaching this game. BVB's away form this season, to their credit, has been better than their home record. They have eight wins, seven draws, and five losses. It's not the best record you could ever imagine, and they have not won a single away European match this season, but they are still Dortmund and one of the favorites until they are officially knocked out.
A draw and over 2.5 goals total is at 8/1 via Ladbrokes.
It really would be considered a large upset if Salzburg were to go through, but you just get the feeling that Borussia Dortmund have finally bitten off more than they can chew. Salzburg have the weapons to exploit a stretched BVB side, and they could just sneak into the quarterfinals as a result.