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Watch: Inter friendly a year’s end finale for RB Salzburg ahead of tough second round

Red Bull Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle speaks to a press conference. Photo: Jonathan Borg

16-time Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg end their short training camp in Malta with a highly anticipated friendly against Serie A giants Inter on Wednesday.

The match, taking place at the Tony Bezzina stadium (kick-off: 6PM), will be the finale to the first round of matches of the 2022/23 season in which Salzburg currently lead the Austrian Bundesliga standings – six points ahead of rivals Sturm Graz – and will be hoping for a place in the Europa League knockouts with a win over Roma in the playoff round in February.

Salzburg may have not been the first name Maltese football supporters would have imagined to be visiting the island this year, but coach Matthias Jaissel believes this could be the perfect send-off for his players ahead of the winter break.

“We’re pretty happy here in Malta with perfect conditions – the weather’s perfect and so is the pitch,” Jaissel told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We felt a warm welcome from the Maltese, and everything was well organised. Everything is going according to plan. We have prepared for our match tomorrow, a big one against Inter Milan so we need to have the focus and afterwards, we are done, and our guys can enjoy their vacation. But tomorrow we want to bring out our DNA and emphasise that on the pitch to challenge Inter.

“After the last match against inter we will give them three and a half weeks off. They deserve it after playing almost every three days so it’s important to recuperate and find new motivation and the right level to restart in January as we face our most likely biggest opponent in the league – Sturm Graz. We faced them already in the cup quarter-final, so we had to take this ‘preseason’ intensively and focused because we have a lot of goals to achieve.”

Salzburg have featured in the group stages of the Champions League for the past four seasons and will now face another Italian opponent in Jose Mourinho’s Roma to continue their journey in European competition after finishing third in their group with Chelsea, Milan, and Dinamo Zagreb.

Asked about the prospect of facing Mourinho, Jaissel told the Times of Malta it is an opportunity he will relish.

“It will be a big pain,” Jaissel joked, “I have followed him for a long time because he is one of the best coaches in the world, of course also a special character – he called himself the special one.

“I’m curious and I’m also looking forward to facing him personally but most importantly we will be looking to meet our opponents on the pitch and challenge such a team like AS Roma.”

Read: Red Bull Salzburg to face Inter in Malta friendly on December 7

With the January transfer season around the corner, the Salzburg coach assured that his players are fully focused on the remainder of the season with the club, despite news of Slovenian wonderboy Benjamin Sesko already set to cross the border and join sister club RB Leipzig in the summer.

“This is common in the football business. If you’re performing at a high level like we’re doing in these last few years, there are always rumours about players, sometimes even about the coach,” Jaissel said.

“It’s something we can handle pretty well. It’s normal in football and the guys on the pitch seem to be very focused and not worried about any rumours.

“For now, we have a good squad but some of the guys are still at the World Cup, and we have had some interesting offers but for now, I don’t think there will be a lot of transfers.”

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