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Our made in Salzburg World Cup XI

Tough tacklers, superstars and a 'god in goal'

Will it be Brazil, Argentina or France, perhaps? Or how about an outsider like Denmark? A few days before the FIFA World Cup starts, there is plenty of talk about who will lift the trophy in the middle of December.

Who are our favourites? We'll be supporting this eleven, made up of current and former Red Bulls! They have all been called up by their nations for the tournament in Qatar.

 

The number one

Goalie Philipp Köhn has put in a very fine application for a World Cup starting berth. On the Swiss stopper's CV are just nine goals conceded in 16 ADMIRAL Bundesliga appearances, and a heroic series of performances in the Champions League against Chelsea. Switzerland's opponents can prepare for frustration with a brick wall in front of them!

The back line

Aggressive leader, mentality monster, ankle biter! Rasmus Kristensen is a defensive beast at right back and packs more than a punch going forward too. The Dane gathered 11 goal involvements in 29 league matches last season, before Leeds coach Jesse Marsch came calling in summer.

From the age of 16, Dayot Upamecano developed his craft in Salzburg. After taking time to settle and appearing for our co-operation partners FC Liefering, the Frenchman soon played his way into our starting XI. In the meantime, the two-time Austrian champion and cup winner has joined the ship of FC Bayern Munich.

Strahinja Pavlovic has been an unmovable part of our starting line-up this season. He is a rock at the back and always sharp going forward - our Serb completes our back three ready to take on allcomers at the World Cup!

The midfield

American Brenden Aaronson has taken fully to the Premier League since joining Leeds, incredibly starting every match this season under Jesse Marsch. That is no surprise, as the silky attacking operator had been incredibly productive for our boys - with 28 goal involvements in 66 clashes before the Salzburg chapter of his Hollywood success story came to a close in July.

Taki Minamino left us in winter 2020 with quite the legacy. Five cup wins, six Austrian titles and an unforgettable goal at Anfield that stunned future Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp. The Japanese attacker now plays for Monaco.

Luka Sucic is the youngest man in Croatia's squad and pulls the strings for our midfield these days. Luka from Linz is a tireless creative force, with four assists already in 2022/23 and surely plenty more to come for our fictional World Cup XI.

He is the superstar of our side, no doubt about that - at least with Norway failing to qualify! Sadio Mane, a UEFA Champions League winner, Premier League top scorer, English champion, twice African Footballer of the Year and so on! In 2014, the Senegalese left Austria for England, and the rest is football history. Hopefully the Bayern boy will be fit to feature in Qatar after his recent injury.

The attack

After scoring 23 goals for us last season, Karim 'The dream' Adeyemi upped sticks for Dortmund in the summer. The man from Munich has already scored in the UEFA Champions League and DFB Pokal, and now he wants to make his mark on the biggest stage of all.

Speedster Hee-Chan Hwang started at FC Liefering after arriving in Austria before joining FC Red Bull Salzburg. Some 45 goals and 29 assists later, he departed for RB Leipzig and since 2021 the South Korean has plied his trade for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Noah Okafor lines up in attack to complete our starting XI. If the nimble Swiss striker bamboozles defences in the next few weeks in the same manner he has for us this season, our team will take some stopping! He scored three goals in the Champions League and seven in the German Bundesliga so far this season – surely he is the last piece in our World Cup winning jigsaw.

The bench

Our first XI will be nothing without a bench that can inject fresh pace into proceedings. Or come into goal if needed:

A god in goal is how FC St. Gallen's social media channels have dubbed Lawrence Ati Zigi. The goalkeeper from Ghana has been in unstoppable form for them. He was in our squad twice in 2015.

His compatriot Gideon Mensah is ready to come on at any time. The left-back made seven appearances in our UEFA Youth League team and is now playing in Ligue 1 for AJ Auxerre. He has not appeared for the French outfit's first team yet. 

Coach

Germany coach Hansi Flick – our assistant coach for a while under Giovanni Trapattoni in 2006 – will instruct the XI. No doubt about it - Sadio Mane & Co can get their hands on the trophy!

UEFA Youth League Round of 16 vs. FC Nantes
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