Bayern Munich v Salzburg: Flawed Bavarians to progress
Bayern Munich got a scare in Austria as they drew the first leg 1-1 against Salzburg, and our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard thinks both teams will score again on Tuesday...
Mighty Bayern are a little self-conscious
With the removal of the away goals rule, this is effectively a one-off game between Bayern and Salzburg at the Allianz Arena, and in normal circumstances fans of the German record champions would be über-confident of progress as a result. However, injuries and illness have deprived the Bavarian giants of key players, and doubt has crept in.
Bayern were strangely subdued at the weekend, as they drew 1-1 with Bayer Leverkusen in a match that was surprisingly flat given the amount of attacking talent on show. Had Leverkusen been a bit more clinical in the final third, they could have caused a major upset.
There's no doubt that Julian Nagelsmann's side is missing the midfield drive of Leon Goretzka (out with a knee injury) and the explosive pace of left-back Alphonso Davies, who has been out with a post-COVID heart inflammation. Despite dropping points, Bayern are still nine points clear of closest challengers Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table.
The return of Manuel Neuer to the Bayern fold after injury is a boost, but even with Germany's number one in situ, Bayern have been leaking goals too regularly. They have managed just two clean sheets in their last nine games, including the first leg of this tie, a match that ended 1-1 but could easily have seen them concede multiple goals. At the Allianz Arena, which has so often been a fortress for them, they have kept just one shut-out in the last six games.
Even peerless goal machine Robert Lewandowski has had a stutter of late. He has found the net in just one of his last four competitive appearances, which has equalled his driest patch of the season. Admittedly, he still has 44 goals in 40 games for club and country this term, so no-one's panicking, but it's another sign of a slight Bayern slowdown.
Adventurous Salzburg have nothing to lose
There's an argument to say that Austrian champions Salzburg may have already missed their biggest chance to cause a huge upset and progress to the quarter-finals. They led in the first leg through Junior Adamu's stunning goal, and had Bayern on their heels, but they failed to build on or even protect that advantage.
Given the contentious nature of Salzburg's formation (drinks giant Red Bull took over Austria Salzburg and effectively erased the club's history), it's hard to root for the club as plucky underdogs. However, 33-year-old coach Matthias Jaissle plays a thrilling brand of attacking football, and there's a lot to like about the largely young group of players at his disposal. Former Bayern youth Karim Adeyemi is particularly fun to watch, and has bashed in 15 league goals and three UCL strikes this term.
Salzburg have never reached the knockout round of the UCL before, but they coped admirably with the pressure of the first leg last month, and they certainly won't come to Munich to simply dig in. They kept just one clean sheet in the group stage, and scored in five of their six matches.
Salzburg have problems at the heart of their defence, with Jerome Onguene and Oumar Solet injured. At the other end, Benjamin Sesko and Noah Okafor are also expected to miss out, as is veteran midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic.
Bayern can progress in thriller
Given Bayern's lack of defensive stability, I think they'll concede at least once here, but I also think their greater quality and experience will see them through. Bayern won 5-0, 5-2 and 3-0 in Munich in the group phase, and overall they have won 11 of their last 12 home matches in the competition, including a comfortable 3-1 victory over Salzburg in last season's group phase.
You could simply back Both Teams To Score at a generous 1.85 on the Exchange, but I'll use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder to boost that price to 2.06 by chucking in the Bayern win. Despite their domestic dominance (Salzburg are 18 points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga), the visitors should be ultimately outclassed here.
Fired-up Müller worth considering
Thomas Müller's own goal gifted Bayer Leverkusen a first-half equaliser on Saturday, so the grizzled veteran might be even more competitive than usual, and he tends to come alive in the biggest games. Müller has scored in three of his last nine appearances, he is a guaranteed starter, and he is attractively priced at 2.3 in the To Score market.
On the Salzburg side of things, Adeyemi can be backed at 3/1 to find the net, although he has actually only scored in two of his last 11 appearances.
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