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The second round of UEFA Europa League group games is on Thursday 2nd October and one is keen to snap up the long odds about a team at home to a deteriorating away side that bookmakers have been overrating for quite some time.
The overrated team is Austrian Bundesliga champion Salzburg, which is not the side that it was before Roger Schmidt quit to take over German Bundesliga team Leverkusen. Salzburg got off to a decent start following Schmidt’s departure, with its first Austrian Bundesliga match resulting in a 6-1 home defeat of Rapid Wien. But interspersed with some emphatic Austrian Bundesliga wins have been some surprise domestic losses and poor results in various UEFA competitions.
Malmo knocked Salzburg out of the UEFA Champions League and its UEFA Europa League campaign kicked off with a 2-2 home draw with Celtic and twice it trailed in that game against the flawed Scottish Premiership title holder. One believes that bookmakers were overrating Salzburg during Schmidt’s tenure and now their odds are even more out of whack with reality because they have not accounted for his exit.
Salzburg’s last five matches have resulted in four losses – Malmo (0-3 away), Sturm Graz (2-3 home), Wolfsberger (0-1 away) and Austria Wien (2-3 home) – and the aforementioned 2-2 home draw with Celtic. Salzburg played against 10 men for 46 minutes of its 0-1 loss at Wolfsberger and it was down 1-2 before its lost a man in the 49th minutes versus Austria Wien. One has looked for excuses and, apart from losing manager Schmidt to Leverkusen and midfielder Sadio Mane to Southampton, there is none. One wants to oppose Salzburg when it plays its next UEFA Europa League game.
A road trip to Astra is Salzburg’s next UEFA Europa League assignment. Astra is third in the Romanian Liga I following eight rounds of action, three points adrift of pacesetting Steaua Bucuresti. One is not going to gloss over Astra’s recent results – two of its last three matches have seen it lose heavily at CFR Cluj and Dinamo Zagreb – but its home form has been excellent for a considerable period. Astra’s last 24 home games have produced 19 victories, four draws and one defeat, with its solitary loss inconsequential as it won its UEFA Europa League tie against Lyon on away goals.
Nothing that Salzburg has achieved since the departure of Schimdt comes close to matching Astra’s achievement in beating Lyon over two legs and, frankly, one is amazed at how bookmakers are viewing Thursday’s UEFA Europa League Group D match at the Marin Anastasovici in Giurgiu.
Astra is available at odds of 17/4 5.25 +425 4.25 4.25 -0.24 with BetVictor to beat Salzburg on its home pitch. One cannot see those odds lasting until kick off. Between now and then Astra has one game, a knockout match away to second-tier Mioveni on Thursday. Salzburg, though, has to play two games, including an Austrian Bundesliga match away to Rapid Wien that it cannot afford to take lightly given the current ladder.
In summary, one cannot have Salzburg at odds on to defeat Astra in what will be its third away game in the space of nine games. Back Astra, either to win or not to lose, and take advantage of bookmakers not paying sufficient attention to what is going on at Red Bull-bankrolled Salzburg. It is quite bizarre that Salzburg has an Austrian Bundesliga goal difference of plus 25 after nine matches yet it is three points behind Wolfsberger. Something is not quite right.
Astra Giurgiu to beat Salzburg
2nd October 20:05 GMT
Odds: 17/4 5.25 +425 4.25 4.25 -0.24
Where to Bet: BetVictor