At the foot of the Alps, almost on the border between Austria and Germany, this Thursday a family issue of the new football. Salzburg and Leipzig face each other on the fifth day of the Europa League group stage, two teams that have successfully deployed wings in the last decade, connected to the economic power of Red Bull.
His relationship with the energy drink manufacturer is so deep that UEFA had to decide a year and a half ago if both clubs could compete at the same time in the continental tournaments on the suspicion that they were controlled by the brand. None of them had all of them with them and they feared the worst. It took business engineering to achieve the visa.
Finally, the agency accepted the structural changes in the two entities and took it for granted that the company was only the owner of Leipzig and that their relationship in Salzburg was reduced to the main sponsor. The luck did the rest this past summer and fed the morbidity by matching them in the same group. After the victory at home in the first round of the Austrian team, now the German box, the right eye of the family, is played in this duel a good part of their qualifying options for the knockout round.
The details illustrate well the great similarities between these two institutions, two sons of the same father. The biggest test of consanguinity occurred in a game of the Champions League preview in 2016 when an Austrian team player, Andreas Ulmer, jumped into the field wearing the shirt of the German squad.
They are so similar that ended the crash with the wrong elastic without anyone giving the alarm. “I found out the next day in the press. I do not know who would be responsible, as the clothes are made in the same place “, says Oscar García Junyent, a former player of Barça, Valencia and Espanyol, and coach of Salzburg between December 2015 and June 2017, where he won two leagues and Two Cups. Even the shields are almost identical – two bulls (symbol of Red Bull) ramming a ball – although the lifting to pass the examination of the Uefa took to the Salzburg to eliminate of its currency in Europe one of the horns and the brand of drinks of the name.
Beyond the anecdote, the change of equipment of the Austrian team by the German has been habitual in the last years, agreeing with the explosion of the Leipzig. “In each transfer market, there were always our players who sounded to leave,” explains the Spanish coach. “And as soon as they went up to the Bundesliga, they saw with good eyes to leave because they wanted to be in a better league.”
During his time in Salzburg, Garcia Junyent saw Liverpool’s current footballer Naby Keita, Bernardo, Schmitz and Upamecano (mid-season) cross the border, among others. The initial bet of Red Bull was the Salzburg, but when the German project took height the preferences changed in the headquarters of the manufacturer of energy drink. “The priority became the Leipzig,” says the coach.
In 2005, the firm entered football with the purchase of Austria Salzburg, a historic in distress. The new owners changed the name (FC Red Bull Salzburg), the color of the clothing (the violet-red and white mark) and the shield (introduced the bulls), something that offended so many fans who founded another team (SV Austria Salzburg). However, the sporting results since then have been incontestable: nine leagues of the last 12, and way of the thirteenth. It is the only undefeated squad in Europe and in its domestic tournament it takes 12 points of advantage over the second to one-third of the final.
But the company always thought it was small game in Austrian football and in 2009 it entered Germany, in the east. Acquired the place in the fifth division of the SSV Markranstadt and created a team in his image and likeness: the RasenBallsport (RB, same initials as Red Bull) Leipzig, with the colors of the company and the bulls on his shield.
Its rise was meteoric: in seven years it reached the Bundesliga and in its first season in the maximum category it finished second, after the Bayern. An acceleration of the kindness that promises the club’s official drink. This runner-up qualified for the Champions, although his participation remained in the air until the last moment. If the UEFA scanner fails to approve both sets, the one that would have been left out would have been the German because the Austrian was the champion of his league.
Almost everything has gone fast in this soccer bet of Red Bull. His second year in European competitions and first confrontation face to face, like the animals of his shields. Now the emergencies have the rich brother, whose coach, Ralf Rangnick, was the sports director at the same time of both entities, a fact that explains the case by itself.
The Germans are second, with six points, tied with Celtic and at a distance from Salzburg, leader of group B with 12. A touch of attention from the poor brother, who also has almost assured the pass to the next Champions as the virtual winner of his domestic tournament, while the Leipzig will have to row of the beautiful to obtain it.