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Austrian champions FC Salzburg will be hoping to spring a surprise in the Champions League
Austrian champions FC Salzburg will be hoping to spring a surprise in the Champions League

FC Salzburg won their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title last season and even lifted the Austrian Cup to solidify their domestic dominance.

Though Die Roten Bullen are league champions, UEFA’s rankings system means they still need to win a play-off match before advancing to the group stage.

Salzburg were able to get the job done in that all-important qualifier — seeing off Danish side Brondby 4-2 on aggregate.

FC Salzburg's Champions League group

Group G: Lille, Sevilla, FC Salzburg, Wolfsburg

European history

This will be Salzburg’s sixth consecutive season in the group stage of a continental competition.

It is also their third straight appearance in the Champions League group stage as they have gradually become a more familiar name at the top level of European football.

The previous two campaigns have seen them finish third both times — dropping into the Europa League where they exited in the first knockout round on each occasion.

They did reach the semi-finals of the Europa League in the 2017-18 season, where they were eliminated by Marseille before reaching the last 16 in the subsequent campaign.

FC Salzburg will be aiming to match last season's achievements, despite the departure of manager Jesse Marsch
FC Salzburg will be aiming to match last season's achievements, despite the departure of manager Jesse Marsch

Expectations

As they have demonstrated in the past, with the right draw Salzburg are capable of going far in the Europa League and even winning it — if they drop into that competition.

They will be hoping, first and foremost, to get out of their Champions League group though, and Matthias Jaissle’s side may have a good chance of doing so this season.

It is a tough group, with Sevilla, Lille and Wolfsburg but they will fancy their chances in each of these games.

Given the way Salzburg operate, the club are constantly having to deal with the sale of first-team stars and a refreshed line-up.

But a team that consistently produces players with the potential to be future Champions League winners will be aiming to also make progress in the present.

Star man: Karim Adeyemi

Karim Adeyemi will be looking to earn a big move to an elite club next summer
Karim Adeyemi will be looking to earn a big move to an elite club next summer

With due respect to Salzburg’s impressive 35-year-old captain and left-back Andreas Ulmer, it is typical that the team’s star man is a young striker.

Karim Adeyemi, 19, has six goals in seven Bundesliga appearances so far this season and looks set to pick up where the likes of Erling Haaland and Patson Daka left off before they made big moves abroad.

The German youth international, who is also eligible for Nigeria, only scored seven goals in 29 league games last season but has stepped up to the plate and is the key man in attack this term.

He could well be the next young striker off the Red Bull ranks to move to a top-five league in Europe and will look to prove as much in the Champions League.

One to watch: Brenden Aaronson

American midfielder Brenden Aaronson is attracting attention on both sides of the pond
American midfielder Brenden Aaronson is attracting attention on both sides of the pond

There will be plenty of eyes on 20-year-old star Brenden Aaronson over the coming campaign.

Americans abroad always attract attention from across the Atlantic and many observers will be keeping tabs on the attacking midfielder when he faces some of the best sides in Europe.

Aaronson is on the cusp of the starting XI for the United States national team but currently has the likes of Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna ahead of him in the pecking order.

There is certainly an argument for fitting him into the team and he will be looking to make a strong case for inclusion with his performances at the highest level this season.

The boss: Matthias Jaissle

Jaissle, 33, is embarking on his first season as FC Salzburg manager and his first managing a team in a European competition.

Like many of the players he has coached at the Salzburg club, the German has come through the Red Bull ranks.

He has previously been in charge of youth teams at Leipzig before taking over at Salzburg’s Austrian feeder club FC Leifering earlier this year.

With the ownership group aware that they would lose former boss Jesse Marsch to Leipzig this summer, Jaissle has been appointed to replace the American.

He has got off to a perfect start in the league, winning every game so far, and was able to get past Brondby — the club where he spent time as an assistant manager — in the Champions League play-off.

All information correct as of 10am, September 14, 2021

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