The UEFA Champions League playoff qualifier Dinamo Zagreb vs Red Bull Salzburg will see the duel between the Croatian and Austrian champions. But while Dinamo Zagreb has been a consistent participant in the UEFA Champions League playoffs, Red Bull Salzburg has never reached the group stage of the Champions League. Red Bull purchased the Austrian Bundesliga license in 2005 from SV Austria Salzburg, who had reached the group stage in the 1994-95 season.
Hence, Red Bull Salzburg’s Spanish manager Óscar Garcia, who is a strong proponent of FC Barcelona’s tiki-taka football, is under pressure to finally deliver Champions League football to the all-powerful owner of the Red Bull empire Dietrich Mateschitz.
Indeed Red Bull Salzburg’s consistent failure to reach the group stage of the Champions League is seen as one of the reasons behind the Red Bull Group’s alternative investment in Leipzig. The top decision makers at Red Bull now believe that the Austrian Bundesliga is not strong enough to produce a consistent Champions League contender.
As a result Red Bull established RasenBallsport (RB) Leipzig in 2009, and after a rocky start in the Regionalliga, the Roten Bullen have now, after seven years, reached the Bundesliga, where the club is expected to become a contender for a Champions League spot in the next few years.
Hence, Red Bull Salzburg is expected to become the feeder club for the more ambitious club in Leipzig. Indeed as transfermarkt.de indicates there is already a steady exchange of players between the two clubs. Already this season Salzburg lost superstar Naby Keïta to Leipzig.
There is the belief that this season could be Salzburg’s last real chance to reach the Champions League group stage, before further Red Bull resources are transferred to Leipzig—also UEFA regulations could make it impossible for both clubs to compete in the Champions League at the same time.
Dinamo Zagreb meanwhile are very used to losing their best players on a yearly basis. In fact the Croatian champions are in many respects one of the most prolific producers of talents in European football.
In recent years Dinamo Zagreb has produced several talented players, and therefore managed big profits on the transfer market. This season the club sold Marko Pjaca to Juventus Turin for €23 million, Josip Brekalo to VfL Wolfsburg for €6 million, and Marcelo Brozović to Inter Milan for €5 million.
Yet Dinamo will once again feature several young talented players who could very well make life difficult for Red Bull on Tuesday. Especially noteworthy are the young attacking midfielders: the 21-year-old Marko Rog, and the 19-year-old Ante Ćorić. Both are expected to migrate to Western Europe following the 2016-17 season.
Yet despite the constant influx of money from transfers, as well as Champions League participation, Dinamo Zagreb has failed to properly invest into the club’s infrastructure. Much of it had to do with the reign of the Mamić brothers at the club, as both Zoran and Zdravko were accused of defrauding Dinamo of much of the transfer sums previously earned by the club.
Yet Zdravko Mamić has resigned as the sporting director of the club, but has stayed on as an advisor. His brother Zoran meanwhile is no longer the acting coach of Dinamo, as he was replaced with Zlatko Kranjčar. It remains to be seen, however, whether Dinamo can be truly entangled from the Mamić Empire, and if the club can have a future in which transfer sums, and Champions League money can be fully re-invested.
First Dinamo must get past Red Bull to reach the group stage of the Champions League, and the club should be in a good position to make the first step on Tuesday at home at the Maksimir Stadium.
Eduardo – Matel, Shildenfeld, Sigali, Stojanović – Jonas, Benković – Ćorić, Rog, Soudani – Fernándes
Manager: Zlatko Kranjčar
Red Bull Salzburg:
Walke – Ulmer, Hinteregger, Caleta-Car, Lainer – Bernardo, Laimer – Lazaro, Dabbur, Reyna – Soriano
Manager: Óscar Garcia