It was September 17, 2019, and there was still no talk of the novel corona virus. 29,000 spectators cheered Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 win against Genk, and it was 5-1 at the break. It was something of an initial spark, Salzburg had made it into the Football Champions League. On Wednesday (6:55 p.m. / live Sky) against Lok Moscow, the Bulls hope to have a similarly strong start in their second season in the premier class against a again defeatable opponent.
“It would be our big goal to start with a win,” said Salzburg’s sports director Christoph Freund. The situation can be compared with last year. “There, too, we had our first game at home against an opponent who should actually be within our collar.” The other opponents in Group A are of different caliber with Atletico Madrid and defending champion Bayern Munich. With the self-confidence of the opening win against Genk, Salzburg had already shown in 2019 against the then CL winner Liverpool and SSC Napoli.
“Under normal circumstances Atletico and Bayern are stronger, we don’t even need to talk,” said Freund in a club’s own podcast. “But you never know what will happen in football. We won’t hide. I also believe that we can create a surprise.” Last year, the Bulls played for promotion to the last group game against Liverpool before they moved to the Europa League as third. Freund: “Last year we saw what is possible against big opponents.”
In addition, the team of coach Jesse Marsch remained almost unchanged over the summer – with the exception of the departure of striker Hwang Hee-chan to RB Leipzig. At the national level, the Salzburgers are rarely seriously challenged. In the 2nd round of the ÖFB Cup on Saturday there was a lackluster 3-0 away win at league rivals SKN St. Pölten. Lok won the Russian championship against Ufa 1-0.
Always favorite in the league, the Bulls would be able to play “without great pressure” in the Champions League, said Freund. There might even be the biggest against Lok, because Salzburg know they have a chance. “But we also know that Lok Moscow is a very, very good team. Everything is definitely inside,” said Freund. In the event of a win, a “really cool away game” would be waiting in Madrid a week later – similar to the one in Liverpool last year, when the then title holder was pushed to the edge after a 3-0 deficit, a much-noticed break address by Marsch and the subsequent equalization Had lost points (3: 4).
Although this time only 3,000 spectators are allowed due to the Corona regulations, as in the previous year against Genk, they want to draw strength from the start. “It’s a bit of a comparison, even if the gaps between games are even shorter,” said Freund. Six days after the home game against Lok, it’s already away against Atletico, and on November 3rd at home against Bayern. Freund: “We now have three games in a row in the Champions League, it’s going in quick succession. It will be very, very important that we start well in the group.”
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