Thursday 14th 2006
Rovers travel to Austria to begin their quest for European glory. Salzburg is the destination for Rovers` first European tie since October 2003. Mark Hughes and his men will be looking to come away from a tight encounter with something, especially as they are playing the match on astroturf. Will the beautiful backdrop inspire the team to a majestic display?
Mark Hughes on Salzburg: "I think people have to mindful that Salzburg are a good team. I saw them in action against Rapid Vienna and it was a good competitive game that gave me a good insight."
Mark Hughes on Rovers: "I have sensed excitement in the players; there has been a good feeling about the training, everybody is looking forward to it. The likes of Benni McCarthy and Andre Ooijer have great experience in Europe, plus many the other guys without the same European familiarity are full internationals anyway."
Brad Friedel on the team`s intentions: "We take our first clean sheet into a European game, we are going away from home and we don`t want to concede. We`d love to nick one if we can but we don`t want to go there and lose. I think with the likes of Benni McCarthy, Andre, Tugay we have a team that does suit European competition."
Red Bull Salzburg Team News:
Alexander Zickler is likely to start after returning from injury and being rested over the weekend. Other than that Salzburg will continue with a normal starting eleven that will see Kovac govern the midfield ust in fron of the defence.
Salzburg from: Ochs, Bodnar, Dudic, Linke, Carboni, Kovac, Zickler, Kirchler, Lokvenc, Jezek, Tiffert, Knavs, Pitak, Vonlanthen, Janko, Vargas, Janocko
Player to watch: Niko Kovac
Salzburg`s experienced Croatian captain will certainly hold all the keys to unlock our defence. Whereas many will construe Alexander Zickler as a potent goal-scoring threat, it is Kovac who provides the dynamic edge. He will no doubt sit in front of the back four looking to neutralise Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Bentley, whilst spending time spreading the play.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Rovers are boosted with the return of Steven Reid to the midfield; however, it looks likely that Jason Roberts will once again miss out.
With that in mind it will be interesting to see who partners Benni McCarthy up front. Shabani Nonda looked impressive when appearing as a second-half substitute against Sheffield United but he may still be lacking in full match fitness. This would surely mean Francis Jeffers would keep his place, unless Hughes opts for a five-man midfield.
Rovers from: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Todd, Tugay, Emerton, Savage, Bentley, Nonda, McCarthy, Pedersen, Reid, Mokoena, Jeffers, Gallagher, Ooijer, Brown, Gray, Peter, McEveley.
Player to watch: Benni McCarthy
This will be his chance to shine. Rovers` leading marksman will be looking to add to his solitary goal this season in a competition he has a wealth of experience in. With his background and pedigree in the UEFA Cup and European Cup Rovers will be hoping he can shine in Austria.
Match Facts & Stats
Blackburn have played in Europe sixteen times but have only won once (a four-one win over Rosenborg at Ewood Park in 1995), drawing six games and losing nine.
IN those sixteen games Rovers have only managed to score fifteen goals.
Rovers have failed to score in half of their European games.
Salzburg have never faced an English team in Europe and Rovers have never faced an Austrian side either.
Both sides finished last season with sixty-three points although, whereas Rovers finished sixth, Salzburg finished second.
This will be a tricky game for Rovers as they look to commence a run in the competition to avenge a miserable record. The likes of Benni McCarthy, Andre Ooijer and Tugay will provide valuable experience. If Tugay has enough time to make the passes then we could see Rovers register a goal or two. However, Salzburg are a free scoring team and I wouldn`t be surprised if they found the back of the net themselves. I feel it will be a scoring draw.
Manchester City at Ewood Park on Sunday 17th September, 15:00 kick off
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