Eleven successive attempts Red Bull Salzburg tried to reach the Champions League group stage via the qualification and failed; the twelfth attempt, however, proved to be the one that broke the curse as the team overcame Maccabi Tel Aviv to earn a matchday one encounter with Lokomotiv Moscow at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Last season’s inaugural foray into the competition allowed the team to gain valuable experience and showcase what it is capable of against Europe’s elite; leaving the squad with a strong appetite for more. Once again, Die Roten Bullen must endure stern tests against the European champions, although this time in the former of Bavarian neighbours, Bayern Munich, as well as facing 2013/14 and 2015/16 runners-up, Atlético Madrid.
Before these matches come Jesse Marsch’s side must defeat Russian opposition, a feat the club has never achieved after losing 1-0 at home and drawing 2-2 against Krasnador in the 2016/17 Europa League group stage. However, Red Bull Salzburg’s home record of just two defeats in their last 21 matches in Europe puts them in a favourable position, and the team will be keen to start the group stage on a strong foot.
On the other hand, Lokomotiv’s record in the competition is far from ideal. In the club’s two appearances in the Champions League group stage, the club has lost ten of twelve matches while winning just two. The only time the Moscow side have avoided defeat on their travels came on matchday one of last season when they won 2-1 against Bayer Leverkusen.
Lokomotiv will be hopeful that their current form in the Russian Premier League can carry into Europe as they are currently third and on a six-game unbeaten run of four wins and two draws, conceding just once in the process. As a result, Marko Nikolić’s team boast the joint second best defence in the league, having conceded seven in eleven matches.
This will be the Russian outfit’s first trip to Austria since September 2011 when they defeated Sturm Graz 2-1 in the Europa League group stage. Overall, the team has a 50% success rate in Austria but Red Bull Salzburg will be no pushover and will be keen to secure valuable points, as the two fixtures against Lokomotiv could decide who drops into the Europa League or maybe even squeeze into the round of 16.
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2020
Kick-off: 18:55 (CET) | 12:55 (ET)
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Serdar Gözübüyük (Netherlands)
Broadcasting: BT Sport ESPN (United Kingdom), DAZN (Germany), Sky Sport Austria 1 (Austria)
Red Bull Salzburg
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-2 (A) | Ried 1-3 (A) | Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-1 (H) | Hartberg 7-1 (H) | St. Pölten 0-3 (A)
Rostov 0-0 (A) | Tambov 1-0 (H) | CSKA Moscow 0-1 (A) | Khimiki 2-1 (H) | Ufa 1-0 (H)
Red Bull Salzburg
Injured: Antoine Bernède (broken shin)
Injured: Boris Rotenberg (cruciate ligament), Dmitri Barinov (cruciate ligament), Mikhail Lysov (arthroscopy)
Red Bull Salzburg
Stanković – Vallci, Ramalho, Wöber, Ulmer – Mwepu, Junuzović – Okugawa, Szoboszlai – Daka, Koïta. (4-2-2-2)
Guilherme – Zhivoglyadov, Lystov, Corluka, Rybus – Miranchuk, Kuilikov, Krychowiak, Zhemaletdinov – Éder, Smolov. (4-4-2)
“I think that the group will be even more difficult than last year. Of course, I am pleased that we will face the reigning champions. It is the biggest challenge in terms of football we could possibly ask for though. Anyone who knows us will be aware that we are confident of our own strengths and will try to play our own type of football at this level too.“Jesse Marsch on the obstacles of Group H. [Red Bull Salzburg]
Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow.