by Mehedi Hasan Limon
Published: September 14, 2021 (2 days ago)
Call for Pricing

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Young Boys and Red Bull Salzburg kick off their Champions League campaigns on Tuesday night in Group G at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Julen Lopetegui’s side booked their spot in the group stage after claiming fourth place in the 2020-21 La Liga season, whereas Salzburg had to progress past Brondby in the qualifying rounds.

As both Spanish powerhouses have had players arriving late from international duty with South America, the High Council gave the green light for the clash to be rescheduled, which has given both sides ample time to prepare for their respective European battles.

Starting the campaign as they mean to go on, Young Boys quickly posted six points on the board from two matches in La Liga but were held to a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw with Elche in gameweek three, as star striker Youssef En-Nesyri cancelled out Enzo Roco’s opener.

The postponement of the visit of Barca certainly ought to be a blessing for Los Palanganas – especially seeing as they will take on Real Sociedad and Valencia after Tuesday’s game – and they welcome Salzburg to a ground where they have won seven of their last eight competitive fixtures.

Young Boys managed to progress to the last-16 of the Champions League last year before being sent packing by Borussia Dortmund, and while a group comprising Lille, Salzburg and Wolfsburg may not look all that enticing at a first glance, Lopetegui’s side are far from guaranteed a safe passage into the knockout rounds.

With their dominance of the Austrian football scene totally unparalleled, 15-time national champions Red Bull Salzburg – rather incredibly – enter Tuesday’s clash having won every single game so far in the 2021-22 season.

Entering the Champions League in the playoff rounds saw Matthias Jaissle’s side take on Brondby for the right to advance to the group stages, and a 4-2 aggregate success over the Danish side confirmed Salzburg’s appearance in the proper tournament for the third year running.

A pair of 2-1 victories against Brondby were the latest in a long line of triumphs for Salzburg, who have also played seven and won seven in the Austrian Bundesliga – scoring a whopping 19 goals – and they eased to a 3-1 win over WSG Tirol at the weekend to maintain their perfect record.

However, Salzburg’s previous three appearances in the Champions League proper have all ended in the group stage – although they were forced to pit their wits against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid last term – and they can boast just one win from nine European encounters on Spanish soil.

Young Boys and Salzburg have locked horns twice before in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup, where the La Liga side cruised to a pair of 2-0 victories, but the Austrian champions have turned into a different beast since then.

Young Boys have very few concerns to contend with for the visit of Salzburg, with Ludwig Augustinsson, Papu Gomez, Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel now all back from international duty.

Lopetegui’s side took part in a friendly with Alaves on Thursday evening, during which a strong side including Jesus Navas, Ivan Rakitic and Diego Carlos all featured from the first whistle.

There should not be many surprises in the hosts’ lineup, with Suso and Lucas Ocampos providing support to En-Nesyri as part of the attacking trident.

Meanwhile, Salzburg duo Sekou Koita and Albert Vallci remain in the treatment room for the long-term, while a bruised heel prevented Zlatko Junuzovic from taking part in Saturday’s win over Tirol.

Exciting teenage prospects Karim Adeyemi and Benjamin Sesko will hope to form the centre-forward pairing in this youthful Salzburg side, where 35-year-old captain Andreas Ulmer will provide invaluable experience at left-back.

Young Boys possible starting lineup:
Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Acuna; Jordan, Rakitic, Fernando; Suso, En-Nesyri, Ocampos

Red Bull Salzburg possible starting lineup:
Kohn; Kristensen, Solet, Wober, Ulmer; Seiwald, Camara, Capaldo; Sucic; Sesko, Adeyemi

We say: Young Boys 3-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Goals at both ends are almost always guaranteed when Salzburg step foot onto the field, but a lack of European experience may harm this incredibly young side on Tuesday.

Furthermore, with Young Boys enjoying greater time to prepare for this battle owing to the postponement of their clash with Barca, we can only back Lopetegui’s side to come up trumps on their own turf.