FC Salzburg v Chelsea
The top two sides in Group E go head to head in Tuesday’s early fixture, as both teams look to take a big step towards the knockout stages at Stadion Salzburg.
Matthias Jaissle’s young Salzburg side are still unbeaten in the group, and they’ve put in some impressive performances thus far to keep their qualification hopes very much alive, with Oumar Solet particularly standing out. They’ve won five and drawn two of their last seven European fixtures in Salzburg, and stretching back over recent years, they have proven hard to beat on home turf for even Europe’s most established clubs. They’re missing Nicolas Capaldo, but in Noah Okafor they have a reliable UCL striker this season, and with Junior Adamu hitting a purple patch in front of goal, they should have enough firepower to get on the scoreboard.
It was Graham Potter’s first game in charge of Chelsea when the two teams drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge, but that result was a touch harsh on the Blues, and the London club has improved quickly since then, remaining unbeaten under their new boss. With a win taking Chelsea through, there’s a great incentive for them to attack on Tuesday, and after scoring three times away in Milan plus adding Aubameyang to their recent list of in-form forwards, we think that Salzburg won’t be able to keep the Premier League side at bay in this encounter.
Both managers have been able to overcome the problems posed by their injury lists recently, and whilst Chelsea will go in as favourites to get amongst the goals, we think that Salzburg will continue their run of having found the net in each UCL game so far this season.
Celtic v Shakhtar Donetsk
The Champions League has proven a slog for Celtic so far, with just one point from four matches, and if they are to stand any chance of progression in the competition, they must overcome Shakhtar at home. When the sides met in Poland in September, they had the better of the game but were only able to achieve a 1-1 draw.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have yet to score at home in the competition but created big chances against Real Madrid and Leipzig in their previous two matches. Those fixtures came amid a difficult spell in front of goal for the Hoopes, which they seem to have shaken themselves out of after beating Hibs and Hearts 6-1 and 4-3 domestically in their most recent outings.
Defensively, though, they remain vulnerable. Celtic have conceded in nine of their last 10 fixtures, with the exception a 4-0 League Cup victory over Motherwell a week ago. With Shakhtar showing in the first game between these clubs the danger they pose on the break, the Ukrainians will be licking their lips.
The visitors, meanwhile, are well placed to qualify. With five points from four matches, they will go into the final round of games with a chance to progress if they win this clash. This means they are likely to go chasing victory, and against a team that is as vulnerable as Celtic defensively, that is a possibility.
Look for goals in this game, with both teams having scored in all of Shakhtar’s fixtures so far. That trend should continue, but there is better value on over 2.5 goals.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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