Red Bull Salzburg: Everything you need to know about our Champions League opponents
FC Bayern take on Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. fcbayern.com has all you need to know on the serial champions from neighbouring Austria.
Historic performance this season
Even before the round of 16 kicks off, this campaign has been a historic one for Salzburg. A 1-0 home win in the final group game over Sevilla saw Matthias Jaissle’s side finish ahead of the Spaniards and second behind Lille as they progressed to the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time. In fact, they are the first Austrian club to do so. The foundation for that historic feat was laid at home, where they won all three games in the group stage.
Austria's serial champions on track for another title
SV Austria Salzburg was taken over in 2005 by Red Bull and renamed FC Red Bull Salzburg. Since then, they have been the benchmark in Austrian football, winning the title in each of the last eight seasons. Salzburg have now been domestic champions 15 times and also have seven Austrian Cups following last year’s double. And they look like retaining their Bundesliga title again given their 14-point lead at the top after 19 rounds of fixtures. They prepared for the first leg against Bayern with a 2-1 victory at Rapid Vienna on Friday evening.
Yet despite the domestic dominance, Salzburg lack that major continental success. They knocked out a Karlsruhe side featuring current Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn in the semi-finals of the 1993/94 UEFA Cup but were then beaten in the showpiece by Inter Milan. It’s still their only final appearance in a European competition.
Short trip and recent history
Salzburg’s Red Bull Arena has a capacity of 30,000 and is only 111 kilometres as the crow flies from the Allianz Arena in Munich. By Champions League standards, it’s a stone’s throw. A number of familiar FCB faces have also made the short switch to the south, with Franz ‘Bulle’ Roth, Thomas Linke and Alexander Zickler all joining Salzburg following successful spells in Bavaria.
Despite the geographical proximity, there have only been two previous competitive meetings between Bayern and Salzburg. They came in last season’s group stage as FCB won a thrilling encounter in Austria 6-2 before a 3-1 victory back home in Munich. The Red Bulls would go on to finish the section in third, before their European adventure for the year ended in the Europa League round of 32 against eventual winners Villarreal.
Talent production for players and coaches
The Austrian club has been a springboard for a number of big names in recent years, including Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland. Now they boast Karim Adeyemi, who looks set to take the footballing world by storm. The 20-year-old Germany international was once in the Bayern academy and is the top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga with 14 goals. He’s got another three in Champions League, where he's the club’s joint-best goalscorer together with Noah Okafor.
When looking at the long list of excellent young players to come out of Salzburg, you also can’t forget Dayot Upamecano. The current Bayern centre-back was on the books there from summer 2015 to January 2017, winning the domestic double in 2016. The outstanding youth work at Salzburg culminated in winning the 2017 UEFA Youth League. However, the turnover in players has been huge, as many have made moves to bigger leagues on the back of good seasons in Austria. For example, last season’s 20-goal top scorer Patson Daka left in the summer for Leicester City. Midfield motor Enock Mwepu also departed for England with Brighton & Hove Albion.
Luckily for the Red Bulls, their system doesn’t just produce hopeful young players but also talented coaches to deal with all the upheaval. That role is currently filled by 33-year-old German Jaissle, who once played for Hoffenheim and is the youngest coach in this season’s Champions League. His opposite number at Bayern, Julian Nagelsmann, is just 257 days older. The pair have in fact crossed paths before. Jaissle was in the Hoffenheim first team when Nagelsmann was named assistant coach there in 2013.
Reaction to Bayern’s Bundesliga defeat at Bochum ahead of visiting Salzburg: