At the offices of Austrian champion FC Red Bull Salzburg, management is pleased with two things: the absence of injuries and fans' growing interest in the club's UEFA Champions League qualifier Wednesday against Maccabi Haifa.
More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the match, and Salzburg authorities are talking about the possibility of filling the team's 31,000-seat Red Bull Stadium.
Austrian sports commentators are predicting that coach Huub Stevens will open with a 4-4-1-1 formation. The configuration seems to be aimed at taking advantage of Haifa's relative weakness on defense and minimizing the possibility of allowing a goal at home, which could prove critical when points are tallied after the return leg in Haifa.
Stevens will almost certainly field Marc Janko, Salzburg's scoring leader, and Alexander Zickler at the forward positions, leaving Netherlands Antilles national Robin Nelisse on the bench. The injured Ibrahim Sekagya will likely be replaced by veteran back Milan Dudic.
The host club will coordinate security with local police, but officials have let it be known (off the record) that the team has no intention of turning Red Bull Stadium into "an army camp."
UEFA President Michel Platini has yet to announce whether he will attend the match.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now