After eliminating FCI Tallinn in the first qualifying round, Hibernians take on FC Salzburg in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League at the Hibernians Stadium on Tuesday, kick-off at 20:30.
Hibs coach Mark Miller is well aware of the strength of their opponents, better known as Red Bull Salzburg.
“I went to watch them on Friday in a friendly match against Anderlecht which they won 4-1. I was really impressed, not only with the way how they play but also with their set-up and facilities. They are truly a professional side.”
“I enjoyed the game. They have some good individual players. They press hard and once they recover possession, they are very dangerous in their transition. It was a breath of fresh air watching them play the game I like. We have to be on our game tomorrow,” added the Hiberians coach.
Miller singled out Japanese striker Takumi Minamino and Croatian defender Duje Ćaleta-Car as the players who impressed him most along with the strong midfield.
“We analysed our opponents and we do have experienced players who know what it takes to face such strong sides. I have to be realistic. We know we have to be well concentrated and we will try to make life difficult for our opponents.”
“Red Bull are a much stronger side but football serves a lot of surprises. We wait and see. Not to concede any goal and winning both legs is already a great achievement. ”
Miller will be able to field his best formation as goalkeeper Andrew Hogg recovered from an injury and Andrei Agius is back after missing the trip to Tallinn. Austrian duo Martin Kreuzriegler and Marco Sahanek are both set to start for the Paolites.
Founded in 1933 as SV Austria Salzburg, and re-founded in 2005 as Red Bull Salzburg, the club won its first Bundesliga title in 1994, which was the first of three in the space of four seasons which also saw them reach the 1994 UEFA Cup final which they lost to Inter with a 0-2 aggregate score. The club has won eleven league titles and five Austrian Cups, all five of which came as doubles.
Last season, they finished their commitments in the Austrian Bundesliga on 81 points, 18 points behind runners-up Austria Wien. This was their fourth consecutive championship. They went on to win the Austrian Cup after beating SK Rapid Wien 2-1.
In Europe, apart from the achievement of reaching the final of the UEFA Cup in 1993/94, they reached the group stage of the UEFA Champions League in 1994/95 and the UEFA Europa League in 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2013/14 and 2014/15. In 2013/14, they made it to the round of 16 but were eliminated by Basel with a 2-1 aggregate score. Last year, they were eliminated from the play-offs of the UEFA Champions League after losing to Dinamo Zagreb with a 2-3 aggregate score.
Red Bull coach Marco Rose said his team is fully focussed to do well in this first leg. Despite impressive wins in friendly matches, he stressed that competitive matches are totally different.
“We are here to show what the team is able to do. We are here to play good football,” said Rose.
When asked about the club’s objective in this competition, the Red Bull coach added that the team was fully concentrated on this game and they will move step by step.