Many people have played out today’s scenario in EA’s FIFA or wondered what would happen if Red Bull Salzburg played RB Leipzig. Thursday’s Europa League group stage fixture between the two Red Bull sides will finally put to rest any questions as to who is the better team, spiritually, in the global soccer network that has come to encompass five teams over three continents.
The Battle of the Bulls – GLOBAL PREVIEW
“We saw last season how exciting this competition can be,” said Salzburg manager Marco Rose. “Even if the first match against Leipzig will be a very difficult match for us, we are going into the match well prepared and in a positive mood.”
Last season, Red Bull Salzburg emerged from the shadows of obscurity to reveal that they may be the best team in the global network. A strong run in the Europa League saw the Austrian football champs come within an eyelash of reaching the competition’s final. Through that we learned just how talented of a manager Marco Rose is and how his take on the high-energy style affected the results each week.
Obviously their domination of the Austrian Bundesliga has continued, but it was results in Europe that shocked many. Knockout stage wins over Real Sociedad, Borussia Dortmund and Lazio opened the eyes of the footballing world to the possibility that the best Red Bull team isn’t playing in East Germany.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig struggled in their second year of top flight football, finishing in sixth place. It was a far cry from their 2017-17 campaign that saw the newly promoted side finish second and grab an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League. Meanwhile, in Europe’s top competition, Leipzig greatly under-performed and missed out on the knockout stages. The team fell to the 32-team knockout stage of the Europa League where they had success against Napoli and Zenit St. Petersburg before falling to Marseille one round before Salzburg would.
“Both teams in some ways will be playing a match against themselves,” said Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick. “Both sides have a very similar style of play and the game will definitely depend on who can get control of the game with their play. We have to be smart and approach the game with aggression, intensity and a necessary effectiveness.”
The game presents some interesting match-ups. Moanes Dabbur, the dynamic Israeli striker, has lit up the Austrian Bundesliga and given Salzburg the kind of threat that can take them deep in the competition. On the other side is Yussuf Poulsen, the Danish player who seems poised to become one of the hottest players on the continent in the coming years behind Timo Werner.
This game proves to be a litmus test for both players who are looking to impress their energy drink overlords. Dabbur may have the advantage, considering Leipzig’s current woes in defense. However, Leipzig’s fast and physical approach is something Salzburg has yet to encounter, save for their Champions League playoff against Red Star Belgrade.
“[Salzburg knows] what we can do,” said Rose. “We want to be brave and energetic in Leipzig. We are well aware that we are facing an ambitious club from the German Bundesliga. RB Leipzig have great individual quality and are extremely strong going forward.”