In exactly a week from now, on Wednesday 20 October 2021 at 18:45 CET, our next big UEFA Champions League clash kicks off at home against VfL Wolfsburg. After two strong performances against Sevilla and Lille, it's clear we have nobody to fear in the group. Michael Richter, Wolfsburg correspondent of German football magazine kicker, analyses the clash with our Red Bulls in an interview.
This interview was originally published in the Des is Soizburg magazine exclusively for season-ticket holders.
How are FC Red Bull Salzburg regarded in Germany?
With respect and admiration for how they have developed young players so well in a top environment. That players like Erling Haaland in Dortmund or Xaver Schlager here in Wolfsburg come in and perform right away shows that Salzburg has become a source of talent and stars.
What is the significance of Karim Adeyemi being called up to the German national team?
It shows the importance that Salzburg is regarded with internationally. Its model with Liefering is catching on. Wolfsburg now co-operates with St. Pölten to give talents the chance to mature to pros in the competitive environment of the Austrian second division.
What do you see as the strengths of the Red Bulls from Salzburg?
Definitely in attacking, both in possession and gegenpressing. They always try to keep the game in the opposing half and don't rely on defending for too long. That can be dangerous in Europe though.
How will Wolfsburg coach Mark van Bommel respond to Salzburg's attacking strategy?
I think he will want to beat Salzburg at their own game. In contrast to his predecessor, Oliver Glasner, who placed great emphasis on defensive stability, van Bommel – like Salzburg - goes for attacking dominance and possession-based football. Wolfsburg have attacking players who don't stick to fixed positions but move a lot vertically and horizontally. If an opponent gets too high against them, they can pounce on any free space with their speed, flexibility and unpredictability.
What Wolfsburg players do Salzburg really need to watch out for?
Xaver Schlager's injury is a big blow for Wolfsburg. They have an experienced alternative though with long-term captain Josuha Guilavogui. Both he and Maximilian Arnold, in my view one of the Bundesliga's most underrated players, propel the play from defensive midfield. They can play the range of attacking options in within a flash with their precise long passing.
At 33, Matthias Jaissle is the youngest coach in the UEFA Champions League group stage – is there much talk of him in his home country, Germany?
He developed very quickly from being a good player to the coach of a top-class club. It was a remarkable move from Salzburg to trust a relatively unknown coach in such a big job. He definitely has a really fresh approach and can get on well with the young players.
What can FC Salzburg expect in Wolfsburg?
There won't be the kind of shenanigans they had in Bröndby, where the fans let off fireworks outside the team hotel in the night before the match. VfL Wolfsburg is a full subsidiary of Volkswagen. Etiquette is greatly valued and they will definitely be courteous hosts.