The World of Red Bull Soccer - April 20
Red Bull Salzburg
One game can change the fortunes of an entire season, as the Red Bulls now know only too well, having fallen just last match to last-place LASK Linz and letting title aspirations all but slip away, only to answer with a thrashing of SK Sturm Graz to the tune of 3-0 as they pulled within three points of table-leading FK Austria Wien. Facing a powerful opponent on away ground, Salzburg stepped up to the challenge to capitalize on the opportunity to get back into the title race. Alan led the way for the Red Bulls, posting his first hat trick in the tipp3-Bundesliga.
The victory thrusts Salzburg right into the thick of the title race, as they sit a mere two points shy of second and three back of Austria Wien, which fell at home. Salzburg has managed just 12 wins, as have five other teams, but have lost only a league-best six times thanks to its whopping 11 draws. The top of the table is now wide open, with only eight points separating first place from seventh.
With seven matches remaining, the Red Bulls (12-6-11) have plenty of time to attempt to wrest control of the table from Austria Wien, but the season could very well come down to the last week, in which the two squads will face off in Vienna. In preparation for that matchup, Salzburg will first host FC Wacker Innsbruck on Saturday, April 23 against whom the Red Bulls enjoyed their largest margin of victory on this season (4-0).
The Red Bulls advanced their lofty aspirations with a shutout defeat of VfC Plauen over the weekend, 1-0. Daniel Frahn once again struck for Leipzig, this time in the 14th minute on a header for the game’s lone tally. The team probably did not play its best, but getting the win when not on top form is essential to any championship plans the team has in mind.
Leipzig remains in fourth with the three points gained from the decision and sits just three out of third. Chemnitzer FC still leads the table, by 11 over the Red Bulls, but Leipzig remains very much in striking distance of second, which VfL Wolfsburg II holds with 60 points thanks in part to a fortunate victory over Leipzig last week. With six matches remaining, including one at Chemnitzer in the penultimate week of the season, RB Leipzig has much work to do if the club hopes to contend for the title in the final weeks.
The title chase will take a back seat for a day to the Saxon Landespokal, in which the club is slated to face lower-division VfB Auerbach in the quarterfinals on Thursday, April 21. Following their expected advance, the Red Bulls (15-5-8) will head to Berlin to face fifth-place Hertha BSC Berlin II, which cannot advance nor fall from its current table position in the match. Leipzig will be looking to catch VfB Lübek, which faces low-table Eintracht Braunschweig II in third before setting its sights higher in the final five weeks.
The U-20 youth team took revenge on Guarani, which beat out the Red Bulls for fourth-place qualification on the senior level, posting a 3-1 result in a friendly in preparation for the São Paulo Championship beginning May 9, when the First Team’s contracts run out and the club will look ahead to the Copa Paulista in July.
The U-15 and U-17 squads completed a Red Bulls sweep over the weekend, shutting Nacional out in two matches, 1-0 and 3-0 in the second round of the Campeonato Paulista. Augusto continued his excellent form after scoring last week’s lone goal with a brace for the U-17s in this go-round. The teams will remain together for a trip to Atibaia, against which they will play another two matches.
Red Bull Ghana
With the possibility of relegation having been eliminated the week prior, the Red Bulls were not content to relax in the season’s final matchup, against Zaytuna FC, and overcame a short-notice schedule change (the match was advanced from Sunday to Saturday) to withstand pressure from Zaytuna to leave with a scoreless draw. Thanks in part to a poorly kept pitch, scoring chances were hard to come by, but the point gained from the match was enough to advance Ghana past Purejoy via tiebreaker to finish the season in a respectable fifth place, just four points out of second.