Pre-season friendlies are designed specifically for two purposes – to improve the overall fitness of the players ahead of the new season and to allow managers to experiment with new formations and tactics. However due to the more relaxed nature of these games, when tackles are on the lighter side and effort tends to be somewhat sedated, players like Martin Hinteregger gain the confidence to try the extraordinary without consequence. The Red Bull Salzburg defender is hardly known for being a goal scorer (he hit 4 goals in all competitions last season), but in the recent friendly against German side Schalke 04, the 20 year old shown his teammates how it was done with a stunning 70, yes 70 yard strike.
The match, which took part at the Red Bull Arena (formerly the known as the EM StadionWals-Siezenheim stadium) was part of a series of friendlies organised by Salzburg in preparation for not only the new league campaign but also as a warm up for their Champions League play off matches. So far, Salzburg have played three friendly matches and won all three games, and in some fashion. A 7-2 victory over head coach Roger Schmidt’s former team, Paderborn was followed by a convincing 3-0 win over French club FC Metz. But it’s the win over Schalke and the manner of the performance that has many tipping Salzburg for success this coming season, both domestically and potentially in Europe. Winning the Champions League is unlikely but reaching the group stage and being able to compete is a realistic goal for the club. Hinteregger’s goal will give them more confidence going into the playoffs and help to build the profile of the young Austrian defender at the same time.
The truth is the goal came from nothing and required skill but a whole lot of luck as well. Picking the ball up from goalkeeper and club captain Alex Walke and managing to evade the half-hearted tackles of two Schalke players, Hinteregger looked up to see Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand standing well outside of his box and in an uncompromising position. Still way inside his own half, Hinteregger thought he would try his luck by lobbing Hilderbrand and luckily the gamble paid off as he watched the helpless German stopper scrambling desperately to stop the ball going in but without avail. The goal inspired his team to drive forward and grab another two goals, with the game eventually ending in a 3-1 win for the Austrian club. So far, it’s been the perfect preseason campaign for Salzburg who will be hoping that Hinteregger can replicate his goal once more when they kick off their Champions League campaign next month.
To see Hinteregger’s strike, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPv6u4ouj7M (1 minute in for the goal)