UEFA's Technical Observer panel reviews Salzburg's Group G home victory over LOSC on Matchday 2.
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Salzburg followed up their encouraging opening draw at Sevilla with a 2-1 success against the French champions – their first group-stage win over a team from one of Europe's top five-ranked leagues, and their second successive match defined by spot kicks.
In Seville, Matthias Jaissle's men had won three penalties and converted one; this time they won two and scored two, with Karim Adeyemi converting both. It was not the only similarity with Seville as once more the intensity of their pressing and their speed on the transition caught the eye.
1-0: Karim Adeyemi, penalty (35)
When winning the ball back, Salzburg looked immediately for a quick forward pass to exploit Adeyemi's ability to get beyond the back line. The lead-up to the first penalty offered a case in point as, on a swift counter, Brenden Aaronson carried the ball from his own half before sending Adeyemi racing into the box, where Sven Botman brought him down. Adeyemi had won all three of Salzburg's spot kicks at Sevilla and here was another. There he shot low to the goalkeeper's left and missed; here he went high to the keeper's right, the kick firm enough to find the net despite Ivo Grbić getting a hand to the ball.
2-0: Karim Adeyemi, penalty (53)
The 19-year-old had a second opportunity from the spot following a free-kick by Maximilian Wöber which struck the raised arm of Burak Yılmaz after he had turned his back in the defensive wall. This time Grbić dived the other way as Adeyemi struck the ball low down the middle of the goal.
2-1: Burak Yılmaz (62)
The veteran Turkish international caught out Philipp Köhn at his near post with a free-kick strike which brought his first UEFA Champions League goal since 2014. If Köhn will rue his mistake, credit to the 36-year-old LOSC forward who – after winning the free-kick on the left-hand corner of the penalty box – drove the ball in low and hard to the front post to draw the fumble from the home goalkeeper.
The teenager began September with a goal on his Germany debut against Armenia. He ended it with his first double in the UEFA Champions League and the Player of the Match award. As against Sevilla, he made a significant impact with the speed and direct running which led to the fourth penalty he has won already in this season's competition. He offers creativity too, though it was his tireless running on Salzburg's quick transitions that made him such a menace for the LOSC defence.
Salzburg had an effective, counterattacking game plan. When defending their own half, they retreated into a deep block, denying LOSC space behind. Once the opposition penetrated this block, Salzburg got players around them, winning the ball back through weight of numbers. Mohamed Camara was fundamental as the midfield dynamo, picking the right moments to press the ball in the defensive block. Along with Aaronson, he helped ensure Salzburg always had a free man when building up play.
In the opposition half, Salzburg applied immediate pressure on losing the ball and this constant pressing made it difficult for LOSC to build up in their own half, forcing them to look long at times. This is typical of the style of a team who in last season's UEFA Champions League averaged the fourth-most counterpressures per match – a metric measuring pressure exerted on the opposition within five seconds of losing the ball. Moreover, they also averaged the most counterpressure regains.
All that said, LOSC made a positive start. They forced Salzburg back into their own half, moving the ball around with some purpose and using the width of the pitch well, changing sides quickly to open up space. Yet it did not last long as the influential Nicolas Seiwald provided more support for Camara (see next section), and Salzburg took control. And though LOSC shaded the possession count they could create little danger with the Austrian champions so much more menacing with their pace and directness.
Salzburg set up in a 1-4-3-1-2 and it is worth highlighting the tweak that coach Jaissle made to their organisation in the middle of the field. They began with Camara (19) as their sole sitter in midfield but in the face of LOSC's lively opening, when the visitors were able to play through them, Seiwald (13) dropped deeper to lend more support to Camara. Seiwald also filled in at right-back for Rasmus Kristensen (43) when he pushed forward, while Salzburg's other midfielder, Luka Sučić (21), was the more advanced of the three.
LOSC played in a 1-4-4-2 formation in which the full-backs look to provide width. At 2-0 down, coach Jocelyn Gourvennec stuck with this formation but sought instead to freshen things up with a triple substitution in the 59th minute, sending on Amadou Onana (24) for Xeka (8), Jonathan Ikoné (10) for Angel Gomes (20) and Jonathan Bamba (7) for Timothy Weah (22). On the other side, where the quick, experienced Salzburg left-back Andreas Ulmer (17) proved a formidable obstacle, Gourvennec later sent on Isaac Lihadji (19) in place of Jonathan David (9), a quick, creative player whom the hosts had handled well.
In the 87th minute, Gourvennec did make a tactical shuffle, switching to a 1-3-5-2 formation. This meant Bamba moved from the wing to join Burak Yılmaz up top while Ikoné stepped inside into the No10 role. The equaliser still eluded them.
Matthias Jaissle, Salzburg coach: "I'm very very happy. You could see the quality LOSC Lille have in the opening phase when we were not on our game. After that, we battled well right through to the last minute, that was really cool. Basically, nothing really changes for us. We're doing quite nicely by keeping our feet on the ground. Today was very emotional and also a relief for many of the players, who were able to celebrate a first Champions League win."
Jocelyn Gourvennec, LOSC coach: "We put things right at half-time to make sure we stayed focused on the game. We couldn't let our frustration dominate. We didn't give up, we got back into it. The players really battled. They [Salzburg] sat back and played on the counter-attack, we pushed in perhaps a disorganised way. They were close to the third, we were close to equalising."