The last time Barcelona visited Austria was way back in 1993 for the second leg clash of the UEFA Champions League against Austria Wien. After thrashing them by 3-0 in the first, Barca won by 2-1 in the away leg courtesy of a double strike by Hristo Stoichkov. This time around, the score was the same, but the winner was an Austrian team –RB Salzburg.
Barca digested a 2-1 defeat to Red Bull Salzburg in the pre-season warm-ups.
Ronald Koeman opted to veer away from his trusted 4-3-3, which had been used in each pre-season game until Wednesday, to line up with a 3-5-2 setup, that did not work enough as they suffered during the transitions.
Both teams attacked and looked wide open at the back, and there were great chances for the two sides. But from a Barca point of view, apart from the good attacking moments whenever Memphis Depay was involved, the Blaugrana were just a mess.
Barca’s best chance came on a gorgeous spin move by Memphis, but he just missed the target.
Salzburg, cheered on by a capacity 30,000 crowd, impressed early on and had a couple of clear chances early on, only to fall short in front of Neto’s goal. It took until just before halftime, in the 43rd minute, for Luka Sucic to open the scoring.
At halftime, the game was fun but Barca looked bad and needed to get better in the second half.
But after the break, Barca were terrible.
The backline was worse, and the midfield kept losing the ball in dangerous positions to give Salzburg chance after chance.
Ronald Araujo needed to make a couple of great blocks, and Okaford kept missing to somehow keep the score at 1-0.
Barca finally improved somewhat with a batch of substitutions halfway through the period, with Alejandro Balde and Yusuf Demir bringing the energy and skill off the bench. The Blaugrana started looking dangerous and got the equalizer when a shot from Sergino Dest ricocheted off a Salzburg defender and hit Martin Braithwaite before going in.
Salzburg really wanted to win and threw everything forward in the final minutes.
Salzburg changed almost their entire starting XI at the break, but they kept Barcelona under control into the second half as well. Koeman was the first to turn to his bench, making a number of changes, and they eventually led to a leveler as Martin Braithwaite turned in with his knee in the 83rd minute.
Parity didn’t last long, though, as Salzburg got back ahead in the 90th minute through Brenden Aaronson to take the win.