The point could still be worth its weight in gold in the end. After the 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad, football champions Red Bull Salzburg are heading into their group final in the Champions League against Benfica Lisbon in two weeks (December 12th) with good cards.
The “Red Bulls” can even afford a home defeat with a one-goal difference in Wals-Siezenheim in order to achieve their goal. This was also made possible by a tactical change: in San Sebastian they refrained from unconditional pressing.
“This draw is very, very important to us,” emphasized coach Gerhard Struber, not least because of the quality of the opponent. The Basques are still undefeated leaders in Group D – ahead of Inter Milan, last season’s finalists.
“We made it very difficult for Real Sociedad – with pure teamwork, with an incredible solidarity, throwing everything into the balance together. Tactically, my boys were at a very high level defensively,” said Struber in words of praise. Salzburg’s coach had thrown the Bulls’ almost sacrosanct high offensive pressure far into the opposing half overboard and only had his players “tighten the noose”, as he put it, in the midfield against the strong sixth-place team from the Basque Country and at certain triggers.
Struber explained that the opponent’s personnel shortage and playing facilities played a role in the decision. “In our situation, where we are stuck with available players and against a top international club, that was the right route.” Salzburg had to select no fewer than seven players.
There is no end in sight to the injury misery. Defense chief Strahinja Pavlovic remained in the dressing room at halftime. An already injured muscle on the back of the thigh had closed.
Special praise for Captain Ulmer
“I didn’t want to take any risks here because this player is an extreme anchor for us,” explained Struber. “Without him, we could have problems with the replacement in the next few weeks.”
The 38-year-old captain Andreas Ulmer from Linz also left the field injured. “He emptied the tank until he couldn’t do it anymore. We know that he’s in the fall in terms of his career – to achieve such a performance against such an opponent at the same time, you can only take your hat off,” Struber had special praise for his Experienced ready.
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