RB Salzburg vs AS Roma Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

Red Bull Salzburg will welcome AS Roma in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout play-offs on Thursday.

Austrian Bundesliga giants Red Bull Salzburg will welcome Italian giants AS Roma to the Red Bull Arena on Thursday in the first leg of the knockout play-off stage of the UEFA Europa League. This is the first competitive meeting between these teams in history.

Red Bull Salzburg are top of the Austrian Bundesliga and finished third in Group E of the UEFA Champions League behind Chelsea and AC Milan. They now face the prospect of facing Jose Mourinho’s side to qualify for the next round of Europe’s second-tier competition.

Mourinho is well acquainted with the competition, having won it twice with FC Porto in 2003 and Manchester United in 2017. Repeating the success this season will see the Portuguese legend join an elite list of managers who have won the competition three times or more.

Roma are far from the top Italian side this season but are the reigning UEFA Europa Conference League winners. Mourinho is a savant when it comes to knockout competitions, and his experience should see the visitors go into the tie as favourites.

Red Bull Salzburg have never won the competition but have, in the past, made it to the final. It promises to be an intriguing contest between two sides who employ differing styles and philosophies.ย The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics can be employed.

Team News & Tactics

Red Bull Salzburg

Red Bull Salzburg might have dropped out of the UEFA Champions League but pushed AC Milan until the last day of the group stages. They remain a formidable side at home and can shock AS Roma on their day.

Die Roten Bullen have lost three of their last seven games, and their form is admittedly dicey heading into the tie. Thankfully Roma are no great shakes themselves and have failed to maintain consistency throughout the campaign.

The Austrian giants have got the better of Roman opponents, defeating Lazio in 2009 and 2018. They will hope that a hat-trick is on the cards this Thursday. The visitors have travelled to Austria thrice in the past but are yet to experience defeat in any of them.

Matthias Jaissle has not been afraid to play youngsters and is unlikely to shift tactics now. He has a fully-fit roster on his hands, and with home support to boot, has every reason to go all out for the win.

Salzburg are likely to deploy in a 4-1-3-2 formation that will see their full-backs offer width on the wings. The formation also gives them the flexibility to revert to a three-man backline, giving the wingbacks more freedom to push upfield.

Philipp Kohn should start in goal behind the back four of Amar Dedic, Oumar Solet, Strahinja Pavlovic and Andreas Ulmer. Lucas Gourna-Douath is likely to be deployed in a sweeping role in midfield, often dropping back into the defence when needed.

This gives the trio of Nicolas Seiwald, Luka Sucic and Maurits Kjaergaard the space to impact proceedings upfield. The trio will be responsible for crafting opportunities for the front two of Noah Okafor and Junior Adamu. Benjamin Sesko is currently off form and is likely to start on the bench for the game.

Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2):ย Kohn; Dedic, Solet, Pavlovic, Ulmer; Gourna-Douath; Seiwald, Sucic, Kjaergaard; Okafor, Adamu

RB Salzburg will welcome AS Roma in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds on Thursday

AS Roma

Having led AS Roma to the UEFA Europa Conference League last season, Jose Mourinho will be keen to go one better this time. The Giallorossi have never won the Europa League/ UEFA Cup. And doing so this season will further entrench Mourinho in club history.

The veteran manager will be without Leonardo Spinazzola, who is nursing a thigh injury. With Georginio Wijnaldum also now fit, Mourinho has several options to call upon. The Roma boss is likely to go in with a strong team and arrange them in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Rui Patrรญcio is likely to start in goal behind the rearguard trio of Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez. Nemanja Matic and Bryan Cristante will provide the muscle in central midfield, giving Stephan El Shaarawy and Nicola Zalewski the freedom on the wings.

Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini should be deployed as dual number tens, with Tammy Abraham starting up front in the attack. The trio is likely to link up well and shift roles to open up space for the Roma attack.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Zalewski, Cristante, Matic, El Shaarawy; Dybala, Pellegrini; Abraham

RB Salzburg will welcome AS Roma in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds on Thursday

Key Stats

  • Red Bull Salzburg and AS Roma will be facing off against each other for the first time in their history in a competitive fixture. The Austrians have faced seven different Italian teams in the past.
  • AS Roma have played against three different Austrian sides so far, winning three and drawing three more. They are yet to lose a single game to a club from the country.
  • Failing to win on the night will see Red Bull Salzburg go five games without a win in the Europa League, their worst run since 2015/16.
  • AS Roma have found the back of the net in their last 33 European games across all competitions. They are one short of the record of 34 set by Paris Saint-Germain from September 2016 to August 2020.
  • The last time AS Roma exited the knockout stage of a European competition was in 2020/21 against Manchester United in the Europa League semi-finals.
  • At 22 years and 279 days, Red Bull Salzburg fielded the squad with the lowest average age in this season’s Champions League group stages.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

The Argentine World Cup winner has added a new dimension to the AS Roma attack and is proving to be an incredible Bosman signing for the Italian giants. With 11 goals and seven assists across all competitions in 21 appearances, Dybala is a consistent threat in attack.

Capable of not just crafting opportunities for others, the Argentine playmaker is equally competent at having a pop at goal himself. As long as he is let off the loose, Salzburg could find themselves in a spot of bother.


Red Bull Salzburg 1-1 AS Roma

AS Roma are the in-form side going into the game and also boast Jose Mourinho’s legendary organisation and tactical nous. Red Bull Salzburg are the opposite and employ a free-flowing style that is easier on the eye. Form apart, both sides are somewhat equally matched, and a scoring draw appears to be the most likely result.

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