Red Bull Salzburg will host Genk in their first Champions League game in three years on Tuesday.
Three years have elapsed since Salzburg have qualified for the group stage of the Champions League. They won the Austrian Bundesliga yet again last season, which played a part in their path to the Champions League. In the previous three seasons, they were knocked out in the qualifying stage. The Europa League was their haven then, where they failed to progress past the round of 16. Napoli knocked them out of Europe last season in the Europa League.
However, they have continued to dominate the domestic landscape. Salzburg have won their first seven league games and stand first in the table. They have rolled past their opposition in that span. On the offensive end, they have scored 34 goals, while conceding just six themselves. Striker Erling Braut Haland has starred for them. He has scored 11 goals so far this season. In addition to those, the Norwegian also has four assists to his name. He scored a hat-trick this weekend in the win over Hartberg.Embed from Getty Images
Salzburg won 7-2 against Hartberg, which surprisingly, was not their biggest win. A 6-0 thrashing of St Polten in August took that honour for Salzburg. In the first seven games, Salzburg have kept three clean sheets as well. They will hope to defend their crown for the sixth consecutive time. The last time they failed to win the Bundesliga was in 2013 when Austria Wien won it.
Salzburg will face another defending domestic champion in the form of Genk. They won the Belgian Pro League by a close margin last season. Genk had 52 points at the end in the Championship round, which was only two more than Club Brugge. Their last league title had come back in 2011. However, this season has not been as kind to Genk so far. They are in ninth place after seven games. Genk have lost three games, which is how many they lost in the regular season last time.Embed from Getty Images
Genk travelled to face Charleroi this weekend to get back to winning ways. But they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Paul Onuachu scored the only goal for Genk, which was nothing more than a consolation in the end. Genk are now winless in their last two games.
Last season Genk featured in the Europa League. They bowed out in the round of 32 at the hands of Slavia Prague. Genk’s last Champions League campaign came way back in 2012. They crashed out of the group stage that season, failing to win a single game. The Belgian side will hope for a better outcome for this campaign.
Red Bull Salzburg vs Genk Prediction
The home advantage will see Salzburg go into the tie as the favorites. Their form this season has been electric, and Genk can’t stay the same about themselves. The total goals in this one should be over 2.5, and Salzburg should get the three points.