Date:Wednesday September 6 2006
Blackburn Rovers may have failed in Sweden, failed again in Eastern Europe and even failed in Scotland. However, now is the time to put all of our European blues behind us, Austria here we come!
F.C. Salzburg provides Rovers with a new adventure, one which Mark Hughes is confident we can surpass but equally holds no illusions about, "It would be nice for us to progress into the latter stages, although this is not the easiest of ties."
So what can we expect of Austria's leading side? Firstly it is hard to comment on their history as it has become something of a question mark. On April 6th 2005 Salzburg were re-named for a forth time in their history, although this change caused wide-spread protest amongst their supporters.
They were taken over by Red Bull and were aptly named Red Bull Salzburg. This is where the controversy derives because after the take over was complete Red Bull's representatives claimed that Red Bull Salzburg had no history. They effectively wiped out the club's illustrious seventy-three year existence, which included three national championships (1994, 1995 and 1997), UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup appearances, reaching the UEFA Cup final in 1994 against Inter Milan (lost both legs 1-0).
So, now for a more contemporaneous view. Red Bull Salzburg currently sits at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga with seventeen points from seven games. They also have a tendency to score plenty of goals, twice already this season they have managed four in a game. They are very much a team in form and boast some familiar world names in their squad; Thomas Linke, Alexander Zickler, Niko Kovac, Vratislav Lokvenc and Johan Vonlanthen, to name but a few. These players bring a wealth of European experience to add to the knowledge of veteran Giovanni Trapattoni.
It is because of the millions that Red Bull continue to pump into the club that they are able to attract such prestigious European names. They even managed to entice Lothar Matthaus as their coach after he resigned from his post with Atletico Paranaense.
They seem to operate in a four-five-one formation with Kovac as the holding player, a position we are familiar seeing him in for Croatia during the World Cup. Alexander Zickler, at the age of thirty-two, still has an eye for goal, leading the clubs scoring with seven strikes so far, although he didn`t start their last match, a four-nil victory against F.C. Wacker Tirol. He will no doubt provide a worry for the likes of Ryan Nelsen and Andre Ooijer while Linke and Kovac will provide solid experienced defending. Kovac will no doubt be employed to neutralize the threat of Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Bentley arriving from wide positions by sitting just in front of the defense.
Whilst we will be looking for our first victory away at Sheffield United on Saturday, Salzburg will be aiming to defend their lead with a trip to Rapid Wien on Sunday. Keep an eye out on Vital Blackburn for a report on that game as well as any breaking news regarding next week's televised fixture.
The article was written by James Watson.
Keep an eye out for this highly talented and aspiring writer as he will without doubt be contributing to this site regularly in the future.
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Date:Wednesday September 6 2006
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