Europa League R32 Soccer Picks: Salzburg vs. Villarreal

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 1:56 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 1:56 PM GMT

Can Red Bull Salzburg turnaround their R32 tie in when they host Villarreal in the majestic Austrian city of Salzburg on Thursday?  Join us as we preview this thrilling UEFA Europa League clash. 

Salzburg Marginal Faves
The reverse leg of the R32 tie between Salzburg and Villarreal is delicately poised on a tight soccer betting line, the marketers way of appreciating just how tenuously balanced it is with Salzburg trailing just 1-2, all while having the all important away goal. Indeed, Die Roten Bullen must feel relatively confident heading into the reverse leg with home advantage on their side this Thursday.

Last Thursday, Red Bull Salzburg slipped to 2-1 defeat at Camp El Madrigal. The Yellow Submarines established control of the pulsating match and scored once either side of halftime to earn the 2-1 victory. The Red Bulls' only contribution to the scoreboard came by way of a penalty goal, which their main striker Jonathan Soriano took early in the second half and for a brief time the Austrian side were tied. Six minutes later, the Yellow Submarines were back in the ascendancy and held on to the very end.

Much was made of the departures Die Roten Bullen endured in the recent transfer window, losing Alan to Chinese outfit Guangzhou Evergrande and Kevin Kampl to Borussia Dortmund. The concern was: without those players, who were instrumental to Salzburg's solid run in group play and netting a good portion of the 21 goals scored, the Austrian's packed less of a punch. How could they then be considered the same competitive side that dominated the early rounds of Europe's second-tier club competition?

Admittedly, some of those concerns did materialise at the Madrigal. It did seem as if Red Bull Salzburg were hanging the proverbial hat on their best remaining striker Jonathan Soriano. Hoping he could fill the void left by the departures of Alan and Kampl. Nevertheless, on the upside, they showed plenty of positives on the day as well. Mainly, just how well trained, disciplined and focused they are. Clearly, they came to Villarreal with a proper plan and, for the most part, they executed it well. They may not have won, but they kept themselves in it. Proving all while they may be lacking in attacking prongs, they make up for it by cohesion and unity on the field. It was a valiant effort, which only underscores their +150 soccer odds for the reverse leg.

 

Villarreal Look to Finish The Job In Salzburg
As it is, Villarreal have so-called control of this tie. Hence, they are the odds makers' favourites to advance into the R16. Consider they only have a goal advantage over Salzburg and conceded an away goal, the -300 future odds currently trading appear overly generous. By that same token, Salzburg's +225 future odds to advance seem disingenuous. Then there's the contradiction in match betting markets, where Salzburg are slightly favoured and Villarreal are trading at the slight disadvantage to win the second leg.

Villarreal took care of matters at home by clinching the first leg. Now, they travel to Salzburg to finish the job, all while trading as the marginal underdogs at +175. Perhaps, if they'd scored another goal at the Madrigal – not for a lack of effort as the attacks came in incessant waves – and taken a bigger lead in the first leg they might have been priced shorter on the soccer odds board. Same could be said for the penalty. Had they not conceded the senseless penalty, Salzburg may not have had the Ace in the pocket: an away goal.

Having just a goal advantage on aggregate isn't an ideal circumstance to be in when going up against a well prepared and disciplined outfit. Villarreal know it only too well. As do soccer bettors who are practically split down the middle in consensus betting across sportsbook platforms.

The reality is, if Salzburg win their home leg 1-0 this Thursday, the R32 tie would settle on a 2-2 draw and, by virtue of the away goal rule, they would advance. You can back a Salzburg 1-0 win at +1100 on your soccer picks at Bet365. Defending is one of their strong suits, mind.

To be fair to both sides, the matchup is too good to end on such a quiet note. If the first leg were any indication, the second leg should live up to expectations. The pace at which both sides play, how they press up high and the very aggressive attacking approach they can adopt suggest another high-octane, pulsating clash is on the cards. Both teams to score is trading at -225 at Bet365, which is as good as any indication of odds makers sharing in the realism of this matchup's combined goal scoring potential.

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Soccer Betting Verdict
As far as making your soccer picks, this is one of the toughest matches to call in Europa League betting. It really could go either way, which means there are angles for profit on both sides of the coin. For our soccer picks, we're bucking the trend and going against the odds makers. Undoubtedly, Villarreal should win this clash. If they are your choice soccer pick for this match, you could do no worse than backing a side that is admittedly better on paper. That being said, something about Die Roten Bullen is appealing. The sum of the collective being better than the strength of individual parts, a throwback of sorts to Atletico's model that emphasises the play of the group over star-studded individuals. If Salzburg can realise that same focus and discipline, they could emerge victorious.

Soccer Picks: Red Bull Salzburg +150 to win
Bonus Soccer Pick: Salzburg to advance at +225

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