Salzburg v Celtic: A guide to the Austrians

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland
Red Bull Salzburg are Celtic's first Europa League opponents in Group D
Red Bull Salzburg are Celtic's first Europa League opponents in Group D

On the same day the people of Scotland vote on whether they want their nation to be an independent country, Celtic will be in another one - Austria.

And, as Scots returning home from work contemplate heading back out to their local polling stations, Ronny Deila's men will be readying themselves for a 18:00 BST kick-off against Salzburg in the Red Bull Arena.

It's the first of six Europa League Group D fixtures for Celtic, who are desperate to leave some sort of positive stamp on a 2014-15 European campaign that has already had its fill of misery.

Having been defeated during Champions League qualifying by Legia Warsaw yet given a reprieve since the Poles fielded an ineligible player, the Glasgow side were again sent packing from Europe's elite competition by Maribor of Slovenia.

So a new start awaits in the less glamorous Europa League.

However, with the likes of Stefan Scepovic and Wakaso Mubarak belatedly arriving to add more depth to Celtic's squad, the more optimistic of the club's fans will hope for serious progress, initially in a group that also contains Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia and Astra of Romania.

But it's a trip to Salzburg first on Thursday.

And here are five things about the Austrian side that it might be helpful to know as we await this group stage curtain-raiser....

The top goalscorer

Spanish striker Jonathan Soriano has hit the net 11 times in seven games for Salzburg this season, although five of them did come in one match - an 8-0 August drubbing of Grodig in the Austrian Bundesliga.

Salzburg's Spanish striker Jonathan Soriano
Salzburg's Spanish striker Jonathan Soriano

But seeing the 28-year-old score with such regularity is something Salzburg supporters have become accustomed to.

Now club captain, Soriano notched 26 goals in his first full season at the Red Bull Arena, following that up with an impressive 39 strikes in 35 appearances during 2013-14.

Soriano played for Spain's under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 national sides but never progressed to the full international set-up and has since chosen to represent Catalonia.

The one that got away

Celtic weren't the only ones to have lost a key asset to Southampton during the summer transfer window.

While Deila was lamenting the departure of England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster to Saints, Salzburg boss Adolf Hutter was pondering how to manage without the contribution of star midfielder Sadio Mane.

Sadio Mane left Salzburg to join Southampton for £10m
Sadio Mane left Salzburg to join Southampton for £10m

The 22-year-old Senegal international, who scored 17 times from midfield last season, moved to St Mary's for £10m and therefore is one less problem for Celtic to worry about.

The coach

Austrian Hutter only became coach of Salzburg in June after two years at Grodig, whom he guided to a Europa League qualifying spot last season. However, his old team were knocked out in the third qualifying round.

The 44-year-old former midfielder made more than 200 appearances for Salzburg as a player between 1993 and 2000.

And the fans' favourite endeared himself further by guiding them to eight wins from nine games at the start of this season. But things have turned a little sour more recently, losing three on the bounce.

Overall, though, his win rate as a football manager makes for impressive reading. Out of 225 games, Hutter has won 119, drawn 44 and lost 62.

The sporting director

Ralf Rangnick is probably a name that rings a bell, even if you can't quite put your finger on why that is.

Ex-Hoffenheim and Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is now sporting director at Salzburg
Ex-Hoffenheim and Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is now sporting director at Salzburg

He's the coach who masterminded much of Hoffenheim's rise to the German Bundesliga between 2006 and 2011.

The German left and soon took over at Schalke for the second time in his career, leading them to a Champions League semi-final in 2011 before leaving the following September.

In 2012, he took on the sporting director role at both Leipzig, in Germany, and Salzburg in Austria - two of the teams owned by the Red Bull company.

The stadium

Salzburg moved from Stadion Lehen to what is now known as the Red Bull Arena when it was built in the Wals-Siezenheim area in 2003.

Its 18,200 capacity was increased to 31,000 for the Euro 2008 Championships, which Austria and Switzerland co-hosted.

However, their average attendance over the course of 18 league games last season was just under 11,000.

Salzburg celebrate at the Red Bull Arena
Salzburg celebrate at the Red Bull Arena

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