Southampton move on from their first preseason friendly against Rasenballsport Leipzig into the final part of their tour of Austria as they compete in the Audi Quattro Cup this Saturday.
The weekend’s round robin features Bundesliga and La Liga giants in Werder Bremen and Valencia CF respectively, as well as hosts Red Bull Salzburg who are holding the tournament in their home stadium, Red Bull Arena.
Saints will face two 45 minute clashes, with Ronald Koeman facing his old side Valencia at 4:05pm BST before facing one of Salzburg or Bremen, depending on results. The two losers will face off for third place at 5:10pm, but if Saints were to taste victory over Los Ches, they will be in the final at 6:15pm.
To preview the tournament, we have asked three fans based in Germany, Austria and Spain to find out more about the three teams standing in Saints way of lifting the Audi Quattro Cup.
RED BULL SALZBURG
The hosts of the tournament, Red Bull Salzburg have won seven of the past ten Austrian Bundesliga titles since their rebrand from Austria Salzburg. But it is the rebrand that makes them, and their German brothers RB Leipzig, a very unpopular club because of the complete disregard for traditions, banning fans who opposed the changes.
To tell us more about Red Bull's most famous football team is Momo Falco. Momo is an Austrian university student, studying at the Medical University of Vienna. In his spare time he writes for football websites, specializing in tactics.
SMS: Fans in England will be rather surprised to see a team named after a drinks company... how come that has come around?
MF: Red Bull has always been confronted with a lot of hatred from Austrian fans, especially when the Club was founded back in 2005. They bought the licence of another club and bought a whole squad from across the league, including Andreas Ivanschitz who not only was the captain of the National Team at that time, but was a fans favourite at Rapid Vienna. The reason for Red Bull investing into Salzburg, and Austrian football in general, is because Red Bull owner, Didi Mateschitz, has his roots here.
SMS: Southampton lost 5-4 to Rasenballsport Leipzig on Wednesday; is RB Salzburg sort of Leipzig's big Austrian brother?
MF: The plan, surely, is for Leipzig to become the big brother. But as Leipzig has only existed since 2009 (vs. Salzburg 2005) it had its difficulties catching up with the Austrian brother. During the time of Roger Schmidt, Salzburg was clearly the No.1 and Leipzig was still a 3.Bundesliga club. Players who couldn't get into the first team were loaned out to Leipzig. After the departure of Roger Schmidt (Bayer 04 Leverkusen) plans became clearer: Salzburg would become sort of a farm team for Leipzig who had the objective to play 1st league football in Germany.
However, last year Salzburg still managed to win the Double (League and Cup) and finished 1st in the Europa League Group Stage, whereas Leipzig failed to get promoted to the Bundesliga and technically had no coach for the upcoming season. Players like Sabitzer (who were bought by Leipzig and only loaned to the farm team in Salzburg) refused to play for the German Red Bull Club as they saw their personal development safer in Salzburg. But when Sports Director Ralf Rangnick decided to become the new head coach himself, things started to go back into expected tracks. Sabitzer was "convinced" of joining Leipzig, same for Ilsanker and Bruno. Salzburg Coach Adolf Hütter was not pleased with this and retired, making place for Peter Zeidler, and thus making Red Bull Salzburg the "ultimate farmteam".
SMS: Saints have certainly done well with their £12.5m signing of Sadio Mané (above, centre) from the Austrian champions, are there any other players who could potentially make the same step-up?
MF: After the shift in interests the potential "Next Mane" players were consequently signed for Leipzig instead. But they are still Players from before that time who have potential similar to Sadio Mane. First of all is Martin Hinteregger, who is one of the best young CB in Europe. His performances with the national team were outstanding, helping Austria to attain new heights and becoming the 15th best country in the world rankings.
With his strong left foot he is able to play exact "Laser Passes" between the oppositions lines. He is also very quick in anticipation which is crucial in keeping compactness during the typical "Red-Bull-High-Press".
An even more interesting player is Naby Keita. An extremely talented youngster, who has incredible ability and work rate during opponents ball-possesion, always chosing the right way to press and winning a high number of balls in the opponents half. He is also becoming a threat to the oppostion with the ball, too. Konrad Laimer also fits this profile and is only 17 years old, already gaining the attention of Borussia Dortmund.
SMS: Looking ahead to the potential clash, who are the key players for RB Salzburg that Saints should be wary of facing?
MF: Jonathan Soriano, one of the most underrated Strikers in Europe. His stats suggest that he has no weakness. Maybe his speed is a little drawback, but apart from that he is the whole package for a modern striker. Again, he is crucial to the pressing of RBS and is technically amazing in front of goal or between the opposition’s lines. However, he is 32 years old.
SMS: RB have won the past two Austrian Bundesliga titles; how long do you think it'll be until we see them in the Champions League?
MF: Red Bull Salzburg was on the verge of getting into CL a lot of times. Back in the day with Giovanni Trapattoni, only 1 goal was missing. But every year the chances of CL were sinking, mainly because of the obsession that the club was having with it. After the marvellous Season 2013/14 under Roger Schmidt, the club was nearly making its way into the Champions League but failed miserably to do so against Malmö, and after becoming Leipzig's Farm team, the expectations have become lower than ever. But then again, maybe that is the biggest chance for them.
We thank Momo for his time, and you can follow him on Twitter at @MomoFalco!