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Austria Beckons.

Red Bull Salzburg
Blackburn Rovers

Bulls Arena

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?

Vital Quotes:

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.

Match Prediction:

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.

Next Fixtures:

Manchester City at Ewood Park on Sunday 17th September, 15:00 kick off

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Date:Thursday September 14 2006
Time: 10:28AM

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I'd take a scoring draw here James, away goals I think are a must for this tie. Ideally Rovers could do with returning from Austria with a draw and a scoring draw as you predict at that.
Hughes Da Man
14/09/2006 10:33:00
It will be tough but I think the pace of the game may suit Tugay and Benni, which will be of huge benfit to us. I think Savage might concern them a little with his energy and enthusiasm.
14/09/2006 10:36:00
Good points roversman. Savage might concern the referee also!
Hughes Da Man
14/09/2006 10:38:00
Come on Rovers, you are capable of returning with at least a draw.
14/09/2006 14:06:00
I think the lads will do you proud sandgroanum!! A couple of couples tonight for the blue and white halves.
14/09/2006 14:24:00
We don't want Hughes, or any of his coaching or playing staff to be ending this tie (after the second leg) with a saying made famous by one of Austria's most famous people "I'll (although it would be we'll) be back" in reference to European Football in the future. Goalscoring draw at least and I think progression will be very likely for Rovers.
Hughes Da Man
14/09/2006 14:57:00
Well I hope this is more of a Die-Hard display... followed by chants of Yipee-Kei-Yay!!!
14/09/2006 18:54:00
Well it's Gallagher alongside Benni tonight!! I think that is a smart move from Hughes. He, like Benni, is a player who suits the slower tempo, better on the ball than Franny.
14/09/2006 19:09:00
Hughes really packed the midfield didn't he, which was a sensible move really. Gutting with such a late goal but still a good result.
Hughes Da Man
15/09/2006 08:51:00
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