Ambitious FC Salzburg are facing "the match of all matches" this week as they travel to FC Shakhtar Donetsk looking to earn a place in the group stage.
Having invested heavily in order to become European heavyweights, Giovanni Trapattoni's Austrian champions are within sight of the promised land after winning the first leg of their third qualifying round tie against the Ukrainian giants 1-0 at home. Having lost out to Valencia CF at the same stage of the competition last season, they can expect a thorough examination in Donetsk on Wednesday, with sporting director Oliver Kreuzer saying: "This is the match of all matches."
With few empty seats expected to be seen among the 25,000 crowd at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium, Trapattoni's side will be hoping to seal a second successive European away win of the season, having looked less than lively away from their synthetic home pitch in domestic games, losing two and drawing two of their four Bundesliga games on their travels to date.
Salzburg came from a goal down to beat FC Wacker Tirol 3-1 at the weekend with Vratislav Lokvenc, Niko Kovač and Ezequiel Carboni scoring, and are hoping that German striker Alexander Zickler can overcome his back problems in time to dazzle in Donetsk. "Donetsk are a very good team and we need to be perfect but our chances are not bad," he said. "I am in a good way. My pace has returned."
Croatian midfielder Kovac added: "We must once more show the fighting spirit from the first leg and score away from home. The best possible scenario would be to keep a clean sheet for as long as possible and then score a goal. With [Johan] Vonlanthen, [Christoph] Leitgeb and Zickler we have fast players, who are dangerous on the counterattack."
Former FC Bayern München defender Kreuzer, meanwhile, is determined to ensure everything is perfect behind the scenes to give his side the best possible chance of succeeding. "Ukraine is not Italy," he said. "In terms of security and catering, you have to be aware of everything. We have done everything so the side is motivated and well prepared on Wednesday. Now it is up to the players."
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