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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Marseille look a good bet to reach Europa League final

Red Bull Salzburg dodgy at the back

Morgan Sanson of Marseille (right)
1 of 1

Europa League semi-final first leg
BT Sport 3, 8.05pm Thursday

Marseille have not contested a major European final since losing 2-0 to Valencia in the 2004 Uefa Cup final, but they can advance to another showpiece occasion by defeating Red Bull Salzburg over two legs.

The teams crossed paths in the group stage and Salzburg had the edge, winning 1-0 in Austria and drawing 0-0 in the south of France.

Getting past the group stage was hard work for Marseille, who won just two of six games and finished only two points ahead of unheralded Turkish side Konyaspor.

But Marseille have upped their game in the knockout stages and come through some tricky ties, ousting Braga, Athletic Bilbao and RB Leipzig from the competition.

Salzburg have the same owners as Leipzig and the close links between the clubs have helped facilitate the transfer of several highly-rated players from the Austrian club to the Bundesliga outfit.

Despite the talent drain, Salzburg continue to dominate in Austria, leading the top flight by 11 points, and they have caused a stir in the Europa League by knocking out well-fancied Borussia Dortmund (2-1 on aggregate) and Lazio (6-5).

However, Salzburg looked defensively suspect in the matches against Lazio and were trailing 5-2 on aggregate during the second half of the second leg in Austria before rescuing themselves with a stunning salvo of four goals in 21 minutes.

Salzburg had nothing to lose in the closing stages of the tie against Lazio, but if they dig themselves into another hole against a defensively solid Marseille it may be far more difficult to recover.

Marseille to qualify
1pt 4-6 general

Premier League standings

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Team news
Right-back Hiroki Sakai was injured during Saturday's 5-1 victory at home to Lille and joins Steve Mandanda and Boubacar Kamara on the sidelines.

Holding midfielder Diadie Samassekou is available after suspension.

Key stat
Salzburg have kept one clean sheet in their last six Europa League fixtures.

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Salzburg looked defensively suspect in the matches against Lazio and were trailing 5-2 on aggregate
E.W. Terms
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