Six competitive games, six wins. Football champions Red Bull Salzburg have optimally prepared for the most important game of the new calendar year so far. On Thursday (9 p.m. / live DAZN) the Bulls will receive Villarreal in the first leg of the sixteenth-finals of the Europa League. At the dress rehearsal, a laborious 4-2 at WSG Tirol, Salzburg also demonstrated their fighting qualities on Saturday.
Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch said a lot about the two games against Villarreal during the winter preparation. “But also about the fact that the best preparation is six good games. We delivered it,” emphasized the American. Almost a by-product is the lead in the table, which Salzburg have expanded to three points before the league battle next Sunday (5 p.m. / live Sky) against their first rival Rapid.
So far, Marsch has been particularly satisfied with the way his team has performed in national business since the winter break. The first four games were all won to zero. Against the WSG there were two goals conceded for the first time in 2021. “It was a different type of game,” said Marsch, considering the icy terrain in Innsbruck. “I think our mentality is clear. We defend much better and we are dangerous too.”
This was proven by three goals in the final quarter of an hour against Tyroleans who had been courageous up until then. “Quality is important in football, but for me the mentality always comes first,” emphasized Marsch. His team had to run behind a deficit twice, but always fought regardless of the score and the external conditions. “
The re’s no frustration, no whining. We showed that. We were so strong in the last 15 minutes.”
At this point in time, Salzburg were almost the best on the field after top scorer Sekou Koita and Mohamed Camara were substituted on. “Quality is always part of this group,” said Marsch. He expects a completely different game against Villarreal, who are currently fifth in the Spanish league. “At home with our football, we always have a chance against good opponents,” said the Salzburg coach. “We are ready for a great game on Thursday.”
The WAC is also hoping for that against Tottenham.
The Carinthians can also tackle the game with a sense of achievement in the league. Coach Ferdinand Feldhofer rotated in the 2-1 win against Admira. Like two weeks ago, captain Michael Liendl was only substituted on in the success in St. Pölten (2-0). According to Feldhofer, nobody has a guarantee of use anyway. “Everyone has to submit to success. We (Cheikhou) wanted to bring Dieng and Liendl as jokers against Admira,” explained the Styrian.
The Lavanttalers were not very pleased about the relocation of the Europa League first leg against Tottenham to Budapest, which is necessary due to the Corona requirements. “Of course that’s not funny, that’s clear. But the whole of last year wasn’t funny,” emphasized Feldhofer. Goalie Alexander Kofler saw it in a similar way: “We as a team can’t change that anyway, we basically have two away games now.”
The change of scene had become necessary because the announced exemption for the landing of the English in Klagenfurt had been withdrawn by the Austrian authorities. After a Sunday without training, the wolves are now preparing for two more days on their home ground before they will travel to the Hungarian capital by bus on Wednesday. It was still unclear on Saturday evening whether final training would be possible in the Puskas Arena.