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FC Red Bull Salzburg before meeting Hartberg Plain

FC Red Bull Salzburg before meeting Hartberg Plain

For some, this is a dry normality, for others it is a lavish celebration. On Sunday (from 5:00 pm on the live stream), league leaders FC Salzburg will welcome Hartberg, represented in the Championship group for the second time, at the start of the second phase of the season, which should not be a slog. Block is on his way to an eleventh consecutive championship title.

After dividing the points, the difference over Sturm Graz was only two points. “It's about showing a good performance from the first match,” coach Gerhard Struber stressed.

After three consecutive victories, Salzburg wants to send a message to Graz at the start of the group stage of the tournament. Struber appealed to his players, “It is important in the long term (…) to give each match the necessary attention, to deal with each match with great focus and not to aspire to the championship title.”

“At the same time you have to develop fun and flow. Eventually things will go our way.”

Hartberger's agility poses a potential danger to Salzburg

Strober realizes the lightness of being in Hartberg. “Hartberg can qualify for the group stage of the tournament without any pressure and play freely,” the 47-year-old coach confirmed before his 30th official match as coach of Salzburg.

But there is also danger at play. “They followed a clear game idea, and executed it convincingly. Everyone knows how to solve their tasks. But we also know how we have to act against such a strong team tied to the position. It's about keeping their work in the bud to stifle it.” “.

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In any case, his team has done its defensive work with great care throughout the current season. Only twelve goals were conceded after 22 rounds which was a record for a league team. “For us, this is a very important circumstance and gives us hope for the next matches. We use a lot of our mentality, especially against the ball, and we execute it very well. The team does a lot of things right in this respect and works at a very high level.”

While the opposition is complete in terms of personnel, Struber still has to dictate to some of his players. Compared to the recent 1-0 win over LASK, there is of course only one change. Left-back Alexa Terzic has been suffering from muscle problems since the trip to Linz, and with veteran Andreas Ulmer not expected to return until after the international break, Daouda Gendo is likely to fill the position.

“Our goal now is to gain international status.”

Hartberg wants to take the good atmosphere with him into the championship group, but he is not satisfied with what has been achieved. The East Styrian club is fifth in the standings, level on points with third-placed LASK, so participation in the European Cup is realistic.

Hartberg has only played in a European Commission qualifier once, in the 2020/21 season, but lost to Polish representative Piast Glewiec. “Our goal now is to win international status,” said captain Jurgen Hill as he charted the way.

Coach Markus Schopp relied not only on the mental level of the candidates, but also on their playing strengths, which they have already been able to use with the Bulls over the course of the season. There was nothing to score in the three matches, but in the last 16 of the cup they had no choice but to surrender in a penalty shootout. “We have always sold ourselves too high in previous matches,” Schop confirmed on Sky.

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Reaching the main set is a reward and a quest. “You have to confirm that against Salzburg and send an example that you can not only be there against a team like this, but also get a good result.”

Of course it will be a rare moment. In the 14 meetings between the two teams so far, Salzburg won 13 times and tied.