Jesse Marsch appeared a little forlorn as he tramped throughout the sphere to congratulate his opponents and commiserate along with his gamers on Tuesday evening. It was not exhausting to see why: His Red Bull Salzburg workforce had been holding Bayern Munich with 12 minutes to play of their Champions League sport. By the time Marsch stepped on the turf, head bowed, his workforce had misplaced, 6-2.
Sympathizing with any of the Red Bull groups — being, as they’re, the sporting emissaries of a company empire — is a complicated factor. As we wrote of RB Leipzig in August, they make imperfect underdogs. All they need to compete with the sport’s elite, in any case, is the backing of a $20 billion drinks empire, and a few of the greatest services cash can purchase.
Still, it’s exhausting to not really feel as if Salzburg has given extra to the Champions League than it has, up to now, obtained. Marsch’s workforce went toe-to-toe with Bayern Munich, the perfect facet in Europe by far, for 80 minutes this week, and received nothing. It misplaced solely on the final in opposition to Atlético Madrid the week earlier than.
There is a component of déjà vu right here: Last yr, in its first Champions League group stage look, Salzburg misplaced narrowly to Napoli at residence, took a level in Naples, and nearly drew with Liverpool at Anfield. Only high quality margins and an unkind draw separated Marsch and his workforce from a place within the final 16. The identical destiny, more than likely, awaits Salzburg this season.
That is a disgrace, as a result of that is a workforce that will hardly wilt in that rarefied firm: a assortment of rising stars — with particular point out for Dominik Szoboszlai — and a coach who encourages them to play adventurous, intense soccer. Marsch was, clearly, upset his workforce couldn’t fairly recover from the road this week. He can take nice delight, although, in how far they’ve come.
Thanks to Joe Klonowski, who noticed in final week’s retelling of the Colombian Pirate League an echo of baseball’s Federal League. “The reserve clause was the maximum wage, holding wages down,” he wrote. “Joe Tinker, Edd Roush and Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown” had been baseball’s de Freitas, Rial and Di Stéfano, well-known gamers who jumped to the outlaw league for higher pay.