LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Red Bull Salzburg

Gives you wings and wins you a string of titles

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Formed in 2005, FC Red Bull Salzburg are one of a number of sporting concerns backed by the Austrian energy-drink giants – Thierry Henry played for their sister outfit in New York. In 2012, Red Bull made Gérard Houllier head of ‘global soccer’, responsible for the key clubs around the world. 

More recently and arguably more prominently, certain as far as Salzburg is concerned, RB Leipzig have become a major player in Germany and on the European stage.

As would happen elsewhere, Red Bull rebranded everything when it took over in 2005: name, badge, stadium and shirt, now white and red, all bear the corporate image. No trace of violet, colours of previous club SV Austria Salzburg, can be found – fans even unfurl a banner at the home end proclaiming: ‘Salzburg is and remains red and white’.

But as Casino Salzburg, the city’s main club enjoyed a successful 1990s, winning three titles and even making a European final, rare for any Austrian club and unheard of for a provincial one.

After a long and messy divorce, with traditional supporters forming a revamped SV Austria Salzburg in the lower league, Red Bull set about challenging for the title. It took the managerial combination of Giovanni Trapattoni and Lothar Matthäus to get them there, storming to the Austrian Bundesliga title in 2007 with goals and sturdy tackles from ex-Bayern stars Alexander Zickler and Thomas Linke.

Co Adriaanse replaced the Dublin-bound Trapattoni, by which time striker Marc Janko had hit phenomenal form, scoring nearly 60 goals in two back-to-back title wins, the second under Huub Stevens.

If anything, the achievements of his compatriot Ricardo Moniz were more impressive, bringing in a bunch of youngsters from the junior ranks to wrest back the title in the double year of 2012.

Overcoming the shock of Moniz leaving for Ferencváros and defeat to Dudelange of Luxembourg in the Champions League qualifying round, Red Bull recovered to push Austria Vienna for the 2013 title.

With impressive results in Europe, particularly a 6-1 aggregate win over Ajax, and domination at home, Red Bull stormed through 2013-14. Clinching the Austrian championship in March, Red Bull were sailing into the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Leading ten-man Basel 1-0 after a goalless first leg in Switzerland, the Salzburg side then let their lead slip and were bundled out of Europe, 2-1.

On the upside, Red Bull ran away with the 2014 league title, beating Rapid by a whopping 18 points. Leading Malmö 2-0 at home, they looked like qualifying for the Champions League too, only to fall to a last-minute away goal – then three unanswered ones in Sweden.

Three consecutive domestic doubles then followed, though an extra-time defeat to Dinamo Zagreb barred the way to the Champions League group stage in 2017. Red Bull only managed to make serious strides in Europe in 2017-18. Despite bowing out to another Croatian side, Rijeka, in the Champions League, Salzburg claimed the scalps of Real Sociedad, Borussia Dortmund and Lazio to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League. Kosovar-Norwegian midfielder Valon Berisha so impressed the Italian side, they signed him in July 2018.

Red Bull pulled back a 2-0 scoreline from Marseille to level on aggregate 2-2 and take the semi-final into extra-time in Salzburg. A late tuck-in from a corner by centre-back Rolando then broke Red Bull hearts with penalties beckoning.

Winning the club a fifth straight domestic title in 2018, Marco Rose was still in charge when Red Bull Salzburg went head-to-head with brand rivals Red Bull Leipzig in the Europa League group stage – the result of having been knocked out of the premier competition by Red Star Belgrade despite taking a 2-0 lead to Serbia.

In the battle of the Red Bulls, Salzburg twice came out on top, also easing past Celtic home and away. Impressive home form allowed the Austrians to sweep aside Bruges but Napoli proved a bridge too far, despite yet another goal from the prolific Mu’nas Dabbur. The teams met again the following season, this time after Red Bull had gained automatic qualification to the Champions League group stage.

By now, a teenage Erling Haaland had joined Red Bull from Molde, scoring in each of his first three appearances in Europe’s elite club tournament to earn a move to Borussia Dortmund a year down the line. Another scorer at Anfield in the group stage was Japanese international Takumi Minamino, impressive enough against Liverpool to warrant a transfer.

Also making his Champions League debut this campaign was the Hungarian wunderkid Dominik Szoboszlai, a storming attacking midfielder nurtured at Red Bull’s nursery club of Liefering and a first-team player at 16. Lost in the excitement of a Haaland first-half hat-trick in the opening game against Genk, Szoboszlai’s goal just before the break prefaced three successful seasons with Salzburg. By the time he move in-house to RB Leipzig in 2020, Szoboszlai was a national icon in Hungary.

To say nothing of Haaland, who notched more goals than games played at Red Bull over the calendar year of 2019. Incredibly, he repeated the feat during his debut season at Manchester City in 2022-23.

While the transfer fees rolled in and domestic domination continued, every title going Salzburg’s way since 2014, almost always by points margins in two figures, Red Bull were overshadowed in Europe by the brand leader from Leipzig. The Austrians made the group stage of the Champions League four seasons running from 2019 but the subsequent knock-out round would invariably involve the Europa League.

Attendances often dip below four figures, fans bored of success, uninspired by yet another win over Ried or Lustenau. Whenever a new Haaland or Szoboszlai comes along, teenage Slovenian striker Benjamin Šeško, for example, top scorer in 2022-23, he is quickly passed further up the food chain to RB Leipzig. Salzburg have become a nursery club for their German stablemates-cum-overlords. Not the ideal situation for an Austrian team to be in, it could be argued.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The Red Bull Arena was opened in 2003 as the Wels-Siezenheim Stadion, named after the area in the far west of town in which it is located. Owners SV Würstenrot Salzburg then fell into financial difficulty, which is when Red Bull stepped in, taking over club and stadium.

With Salzburg already chosen as a Euro 2008 venue, the new owners set to work on raising the roof to add an extra tier, increasing capacity to 31,000. The new venue opened in July 2007 with a curtain-raising friendly between Red Bull Salzburg and Arsenal – though later that year the same owners may not have been so excited about the Euro draw, which saw the three Salzburg matches all allocated to Greece.

With the stadium’s raised roof allowing views of the Alps behind, the Südtribüne is the home end, the lower tier for standing fans. Away supporters are allocated a far corner of the Nordtribüne nearest the Ostribüne, the family sector set up at the opposite corner by the Westtribüne, behind which you’ll find the Bulls’ Corner bar/restaurant and the Fan Park.

getting there

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

Transport is free for holders of match tickets on the day up to 6hrs before kick-off. Single tickets are otherwise €3. Bus 1 runs every 20mins from the train station, via focal Hanuschplatz/Zentrum, to the stadium, 35mins/25mins away. Several buses run to the nearby Europark mall – the 28, also from Hanuschplatz/Zentrum, carries on to the stadium. 

Across from the mall, S-Bahn station Salzburg Taxham Europark is linked with Salzburg main station (line S2/S3 direction Freilassing, every 30mins, 8min journey time). There are also all manner of match-day shuttles from around the Salzburg area to the Kleßheim Red Bull Arena stop.

Walking between mall and stadium requires a short stroll through the underpass.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets can be bought online or in person from the Ticketing & Service Center (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-1pm & 3hrs before kick-off) behind the Osttribüne. Credit-card payment is possible with ID. Tickets are €2 cheaper online. Tickets are also sold at the nearby Red Bull Shop (same hours).

For all enquiries, contact tickets@redbullsalzburg.at.

Seats along the sidelines in the Ost- and Westtribüne run from €17 to €31 in the upper tier. A place in the far corners of the Osttribüne or immediately behind the goal in the Nord will cost you €16/€18. Standing fans, home or away, pay €13/€15. Top matches carry a levy of a couple of euros.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

On the corner of the Süd- and Osttribüne, the Red Bull Shop (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-1pm & 3hrs before kick-off) sells all manner of accessories in the Bullidibumm range, as well as offering copies of free match programme Heimspiel.

Stadium tours

Explore the ground inside and out

On non-match day Saturdays, 90-minute tours (€17, €12 6-17s, free under-6s) take place from 11am, starting point the VIP entrance behind the Westtribüne.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The nearby Europark mall is full of outlets – Raschhoffer’s Rossbräu overlooking the bus stop has an outdoor beer terrace.

At the stadium, the Bulls’ Corner (Mon-Sat 8.30am-10pm, not match days) in the Westtribüne is neat restaurant serving three mealtimes a day, with plenty of TV football, daily specials and grilled favourites such as the substantial Bulls’ Burger (€16.50).

As this becomes VIP-only on match days, the club have recently set up the excellent Fan Park/Bullidikidz Arena nearby, a free-to-enter, open-air communal corner of football and soft-play games, a grill and beer terrace. 

Whatever criticisms can be levelled at the corporate takeover of football, this family-friendly attraction, busy for hours pre-match, is a world away from an Austrian Bundesliga fixture in the 1980s. Prices for Stiegl Goldbräu, white-wine spritzers and meatloaf rolls are the same as at the many kiosks dotted inside the ground.

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