Salzburg v Bayern Munich: Bayern to win local showdown

Bayern Munich are making the short trip across the border to face Austrian table-toppers Salzburg, and our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard believes the visitors will secure a stylish win.

Salzburg have already scaled the mountain

After falling at the playoff hurdle so many times in the Champions League, Salzburg finally made the group stage in 2019, and they now find themselves in the knockout phase of Europe's VIP competition for the first time. They came through an evenly contested group that included Lille, Wolfsburg and Sevilla, and they played some thrilling football along the way.

Coach Matthias Jaissle, who had an unremarkable playing career but is now a remarkable coach at the age of just 33, has done a terrific job. Salzburg are 14 points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga, they just swept aside LASK 3-1 in the Austrian Cup, and in the Champions League they racked up ten points and eight goals.

Exciting German international Karim Adeyemi is the spark in attack, although it seems he'll be facing Bayern as a Borussia Dortmund player next season. The 20-year-old has rattled in 14 league goals in just 18 games, and he has mitigated the loss of Zambian goal-getter Patson Daka, who defected to Leicester City in the summer.

US international midfielder Brenden Aaronson has attracted bids and admiring glances from Leeds United, and he's just one of many young talents who are shining in this side. If you look at the team that secured a crucial 1-0 win over Sevilla on Matchday Six, 36-year-old full-back Andreas Ulmer was the only veteran.

Jaissle is without some key players for this first leg. Benjamin Sesko, Sekou Koita, Bernardo and veteran midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic are all expected to be unavailable because of injury.

Wounded Bayern could be dangerous

Julian Nagelsmann knew something was wrong, but he didn't act on it fast enough. The Bayern coach admitted there was a lack of tension in training ahead of Saturday's trip to face promoted Bochum in the Bundesliga, but the slackness of the performance still caught him on the hop.

Selecting Joshua Kimmich as the only recognised central midfielder proved to be too bold a masterplan, and Bayern were smashed in the first half at the Ruhrstadion, going 4-1 down. Admittedly, Bochum scored two world-class goals from distance, but it was still a poor display from the record champions.

An angry Bayern is often a ruthless Bayern. If you look at all of the Bavarian giants' defeats this term, they have all been followed by wins, and usually big ones at that. The score-lines of those bounce-back wins have been 5-1, 5-2, 2-1 and 4-0.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Nagelsmann's side have been flawless so far in this competition. They won all six group games, consistently wiping the floor with Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica. Along the way, they scored 22 goals and conceded just three.

Manuel Neuer has had minor surgery on his meniscus, and will be side-lined for a few weeks. Influential, speedy wing-back Alphonso Davies is being very carefully monitored after a COVID-19-related bout of myocarditis (heart inflammation), and Leon Goretzka is still being trouble by a pesky patella problem. Kingsley Coman has a slight muscle injury, but should be okay.

Bayern to flex their muscles

Bayern were far too strong for Salzburg in last season's group stage, beating them 3-1 in Munich and 6-2 over the border in Salzburg. I anticipate something similar here - Salzburg can trouble the Bayern defensive line, especially with Neuer out of action. Sven Ulreich is an experienced and competent keeper, but he simply isn't in Neuer's league.

However, Salzburg kept just one clean sheet in the group stage, and I can't see them containing the likes of Leroy Sane, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller. Remarkably, Bayern have scored at least twice in 43 of their last 50 Champions League matches, and the last 16 last season, they torched Lazio 4-1 and 2-1.

I think Bayern will overwhelm a largely inexperienced Salzburg side, but don't be surprised if the Austrians score along the way. I'll back Bayern to win and both teams to score on the Sportsbook at 2.3.

If you want a slightly bigger price, you could go for Bayern to win and Over 3.5 Goals at 2.5.

Bayern's attack to catch fire in the cold

Robert Lewandowski comes alive in this competition, and he has already scored nine goals in the UCL this term. He has had 19 goals attempts, and 13 of those have been on target. Salzburg don't exactly shut up shop, and I love the idea of backing the Polish international to have at least one shot on target in each half on the Sportsbook at 2.25.

It'd be a surprise to see Lewandowski fail to complete 90 minutes, and he should get plenty of chances to shine here.

It's also worth backing Leroy Sane to score at a hefty 2.7. The Germany star is having a terrific season, and has already scored five goals in the Champions League. The former Manchester City winger has scored in four of his last ten appearances in all competitions.

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