Leeds United in Austria: Phil Hay’s Tour Diary – Day 3

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The Red Bull Arena – home of Red Bull Salzburg – is round the corner (in a manner of speaking) from the YEP’s hotel, on the northern tip of the city.

With a capacity of over 31,000, it has hallmarks of many English stadiums: new, symmetrical and rather soulless. The ground is also branded in every possible way, including very obvious attempts to hook the local kids.

The Red Bull Arena. Home of Red Bull Salzburg.' Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Red Bull Arena. Home of Red Bull Salzburg.' Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Red Bull Salzburg is what became of SV Austria Salzburg, the club bought by Red Bull in 2005. The renaming of the team, a change of strip and an attempt by the company to essentially create an entirely new entity caused huge divisions with long-time supporters.

Those supporters duly reformed Austria Salzburg in the country’s lower leagues and on Saturday night the club contested a cup game against Eugendorf at the venue where Leeds play Eintracht Frankfurt this evening. A number of United fans attended the tie (although probably not the 800 estimated by the groundsman when the YEP spoke to him yesterday).

Leeds, of course, have their own uncomfortable relationship with Red Bull – forever linked with a takeover by the soft drinks giant despite a buy-out forever failing to materialise.

Prior to travelling to Austria, we contacted Red Bull Salzburg to ask if anyone senior at the club or the company would be willing to speak about its supposed interest in Leeds.

Salzburg’s head of media, Christian Kircher, replied saying: “Thank you for your friendly request. But there is nothing to say from our side regarding this topic.”

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Eintracht Frankfurt were late and very good replacements for Athletic Bilbao, the team who Uwe Rosler originally arranged for Leeds to play tonight.

The replacement game was announced on June 17, three days after Eintracht appointed a new head coach, Armin Veh. Veh was previously in charge of Frankfurt before leaving for Stuttgart last year.

The delay in recruiting him left Frankfurt’s pre-season up in the air for many weeks and according to journalists who follow the club, the 54-year-old is less than thrilled about the logistics of the clash with Leeds. Frankfurt are based to the east of Salzburg in Windischgarsten and will travel almost 100 miles to get to Eugendorf.

As it happens, Leeds and Eintracht have a shared wish-list insofar as both are looking for a left winger. Frankfurt also want a keeper after selling Kevin Trapp to Paris Saint-Germain in a £9m transfer. No Eintracht player has ever cost more money.

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Two of Frankfurt’s better players will be absent from tonight’s friendly. Midfielder Alex Meier had knee surgery in April and is not yet fit while centre-back Carlos Zambrano is on holiday after appearing for Peru in the Copa America.

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Eugendorf’s stadium has a maximum capacity of around 2,000, not that a crowd of that size is likely for United’s clash with Frankfurt. Tickets for what posters are billing as the ‘European Summer League’ are 12 euros.