Conquering La Liga outfit Real Sociedad in the prior round, when the draw was taking place for the round of 16, everyone at Red Bull Salzburg would have had their fingers crossed for an easier obstacle to overcome to reach the club’s first-ever Europa League quarter-final. Unfortunately for them, a trip across the border is on the horizon, as they’ve been drawn against 2013’s Champions League finalists, Borussia Dortmund.
Despite a magnificent start to the season that saw them win nine of their opening ten domestic fixtures under the newly appointed Peter Bosz, Dortmund were never able to pick up speed in Europe, crashing into the Europa League having only picked up two points in a group that included APOEL, Tottenham Hotspur and back-to-back European champions, Real Madrid.
A change in coach resulted in a change in fortune for the club. Sitting 3rd in the table as of matchday 25, the German’s are currently unbeaten in 13 games under the stewardship of former Köln boss, Peter Stöger, since the Austrian’s appointment in mid-December. An upturn in form gave them the confidence needed to progress into the round of 16, as they were able to come from behind twice in two games to defeat a resilient Atalanta side, who would’ve progressed themselves had Etrit Berisha not spilled a cross into the path Schmelzer. Gifting the German full-back the chance to level the score on the night and put Dortmund through to the next round.
In preparation for the first leg, both sides were able to achieve respectable results in their respective leagues. Dortmund were able to secure a 1-1 draw at Red Bull sister-club, RB Leipzig, despite going 1-0 down; whilst Salzburg defeated 4th placed Rapid Wien in front of a home crowd. With Dortmund’s defensive liabilities and Salzburg’s high-intensity approach, this could turn out to be the most entertaining fixtures of the round.
Date: Thursday March 8, 2018 | Thursday March 15, 2018
Kick-off: 19:00 (CET) | 21:05 (CET)
Venue: Westfalenstadion (capacity: 81,360) | Red Bull Arena
Referee: Slavko Vinčić (Slovenia) | Benoît Bastien (France)
Broadcasting: BT Sports ESPN (UK), Sky Sports 1 (Germany), Sky Sports 1 (Austria) | BT Sports 3 (UK), Sky Sports 1 (Germany), Sky Sports 1 (Austria)
Form In Europe
Red Bull Salzburg
D | W | D | D | W
D | L | L | W | D
Red Bull Salzburg
Injured: Patson Daka (thigh)
Injured: Sebastian Rode (stress fracture) | Andriy Yarmolenko (foot) | Erik Durm (torn ankle ligament) | Raphaël Guerreiro (muscular problem)
Absent: Manuel Akanji (ineligible)
One To Watch
A last-minute acquisition from Premier League champions Chelsea, Michy Batshuayi has hit the ground running at his new club; scoring 5 in his opening 6 games. Not only is he firing in the league, the Belgian had an integral role in Dortmund’s progression in this tournament; scoring twice to overturn a 2-1 deficit with a 90th minute winner to put his side ahead going into the second leg – a game which ended in a 1-1 draw. Batshuayi is a forward who likes to drop deep to receive the ball with his back to goal in an attempt to entice him marker and create space in the centre. But it’s his exploits inside the box which makes him a threat, as he’s able to create opportunities for himself from tight space, as well as getting onto the end of a pass/cross and make full use of his clinical finishing.
Red Bull Salzburg
Lainer – Ramalho – Ćaleta-Car – Ulmer
Haidara – Samassékou – Berisha
Dabbur – Hwang
Piszczek – Sokratis – Toprak – Schmelzer
Weigl – Dahoud
Schürrle – Götze – Reus
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Red Bull Salzburg | Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 Borussia Dortmund