Rune Bratseth, who in the 1980s and 1990s became Werder Bremen’s best export article Norwegian football had to offer, is massively disturbed by the constellation that came about in the Europa League group phase: RB Leipzig is playing FC Salzburg.
“When I saw the two clubs in our group, I asked myself: “Is that allowed?” said Bratseth in an interview with Sport inside. The clash of two clubs from the Red Bull House, which the Brausemilliardär Dietrich Mateschitz launched and whose logos look similar to each other, has a bitter aftertaste for the board member of Rosenborg Trondheim.
The 57-year-old, for example, fears a distortion of competition in the return leg of the can duel: “What happens if both need a point on the penultimate matchday? It’s not good for the two clubs to suspect anything at all.” In Leipzig and Salzburg, the protagonists naturally see it differently that they are so close to the conflict line. After all, UEFA had already ordered a process of unbundling three years ago, which has also been completed, as those responsible emphasise. “The clubs were once closely interlocked, which is no longer the case,” asserts Leipzig’s CEO Oliver Mintzlaff. Only for the Europe League the Logo was modified by the way: There now only a bull emerges.
Ralf Rangnick promises for the clash of the clubs with the bull brand core: “This will put so much explosiveness and fire into it, as in hardly any other game”. The coach and sports director of the marketing vehicle RB Leipzig, which was promoted to the Bundesliga in 2016 – the initials RB officially stand for RasenBallsport – once liked to enumerate that he would constantly commute between Salzburg, Leipzig and his Swabian homeland.
The former Rangnick consultant Mintzlaff was Head of Global Soccer and was temporarily responsible for all soccer activities of Red Bull GmbH. For Leipzig, Salzburg and New York. For the critic Bratseth it is still clear “that they work together”. As an expert for Norwegian television, he had studied the career of the players frequently enough to find out that a career path under the shower roof very often leads via the Mozart city of Salzburg to the trade fair city of Leipzig: “You can’t get away from that.”
Mateschitz appeases: “The better should win.” But has Leipzig not long had the higher priority? Between 2012 and 2018, 17 players alone followed the Rangnick call. With midfielder Amadou Haidara, the next highly talented player is to switch to the “Red Bulls” in the German Bundesliga this winter. Not only once did the stable management seem at least questionable, even disreputable. In the summer of 2014, for example, Rangnick guided his current top performer Marcel Sabitzer from Rapid Wien to the then second league club Leipzig and then immediately lent him to Salzburg.
With goalkeeper Petar Gulacsi, defensive ace Dayot Upamecano, scrapper Stefan Ilsanker, all-rounder Kevin Kampl or Konrad Laimer, almost half of the Saxony’s regular eleven have a past in the top Austrian club, which regularly fails to get the Champions League licence. Also coach Marco Rose, born in Leipzig, could not defeat this curse.
Hinteregger spoke plainly
Martin Hinteregger, who is now defending FC Augsburg, has denounced that Salzburg has been unnecessarily weakened by the blood-letting in the direction of Saxony. “The way Leipzig destroys Salzburg is not nice to look at,” the native of Salzburg once complained.
Apart from that, there are rather soft-soaked statements to be heard about this marshalling yard. Anyone who wants to hear plain language ends up back at Rune Bratseth. His conclusion: “What is legally correct does not mean that it is morally correct. It’s not good from the emotional point of view. Check out this energybet review to get to know more about sports betting.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version of the article it was claimed that entering “RB Leipzig” in an Internet browser leads to the homepage of Red Bull Salzburg, as the club is called in the Austrian Bundesliga. This assertion is not correct. The browser input “rbleipzig.de” leads to the homepage of the ice hockey club EC RedBull Salzburg. We apologize for any inconvenience.
The days when Bruges was once an insider tip among tourists are long gone. Every weekend, the medieval city centre, freed from car traffic, becomes the meeting point for a host of foreign visitors. More than six million are there year after year.
Many come from neighbouring Germany to visit the 118,000-inhabitant city in the province of West Flanders, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 and European Capital of Culture in 2002. The fact that the city has once again made it onto the map of the Champions League raises the self-esteem of those residents who are associated with Club Bruges. FC Bruges, as the club is usually called abroad, will welcome Borussia Dortmund from the Bundesliga on Tuesday(9 p.m.).
Anyone who has already taken part in a total of 47 European Cup competitions – 19 of which in the Champions League or in the predecessor competition, the European Cup of National Champions – has every right to see himself as a regular guest. And yet it is a long time ago that Belgian clubs were perceived as stylistic elements.
With globalisation and commercialisation, the best players moved on earlier and earlier; almost all the top performers of the “Red Devils”, who narrowly missed the final at this year’s World Cup, have long since been employed by the big Premier League clubs in England. It would therefore be an achievement if the current champions could keep up with Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco in a group.
Old star Ceulemans is a realist
“We have to be honest. For Belgian clubs, the Champions League group stage is all about third place and progress in the Europa League. Everything is a different dream,” stresses Jan Ceulemans. The former star player, one of the best strikers on the continent in the 80s and 90s, must know.
The 61-year-old is still intensively following European club football, and Ceulemans knows how the balance of power has shifted in favour of the few global players. “Money may not be a guarantee of success, but it increases the chances of success. Financially, Belgian clubs could not even begin to keep up with the big leagues. History is the encouragement when Bruges plays against BVB in the Jan Breydel stadium: in 2003 the “Blauw en Zart” shocked Borussia in the play-offs to the top league, after which they tumbled into the big (financial) crisis.
Belgium’s national players almost all abroad
Nowadays the economic and sporting differences are enormous. Most of Belgium’s international matches were made up of Bruges’ squad of striker Jelle Vossen, who played twelve times but was not nominated for the World Cup. There was only one pro from the Pro League in Russia – Leander Dendoncker from RSC Anderlecht.
Belgian football is ninth in the UEFA five-year standings and can therefore send its title holder directly to the group stage of the Champions League. A privilege that neighbouring Netherlands does not enjoy. In 14th place in this ranking, Holland’s champions and runners-up must first make the tedious detour through the qualifying process.
Both PSV Eindhoven (against BATE Baryssau) and Ajax Amsterdam (against Dynamo Kiev) won on the way to the championship. The Benelux countries are thus bringing three starters onto the illuminated stage. Especially for the dying Dutch football, whose “Elftal” recently crunched both the qualification for the European Championship 2016 and the World Cup 2018 gambled away, an encouraging signal.
For Eindhoven, however, it could hardly have been worse. FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan are the opponents in Group B – and the big favourites as well. But what did Mark van Bommel hire in his home club for, please? Van Bommel, once chosen by Ottmar Hitzfeld to be his “Aggressive Leader” at FC Bayern and still co-coach of his father-in-law Bert van Marwijk for Australia at the World Cup, has never given in without resistance.
Van Marwijk also hired PSV adviser, while van Bommel succeeded Philipp Cocu as head coach. For him, the draw was an encounter with his own past, as he played both in Barcelona and Milan (where he played for Milan).
For the opening task in Barcelona at Camp Nou (Tuesday 18.55), the slogan is to pull yourself out of the affair – and not to take a beating. The best known player in Germany from the Eindhoven squad is probably the nimble Mexican Hirving Lozano, who, as is well known, sent the lethargic DFB team onto the boards with his winning goal in the first World Cup group match. Titanbet is neither in the top or in the bottom of the list of the best online casino.