Andreas Ulmer thinks step by step. Salzburg’s captain doesn’t want to look too far into the future before the first knockout round of the Europa League football. “It can go to the final, but it can also be over right away,” said the 35-year-old before the first leg of the sixteenth-final first leg on Thursday (9:00 pm / live DAZN) against Villarreal of the APA – Austria Press Agency. He sees the duel with the Spanish sixth in the table balanced.
“It’s not like we’re the big favorites. But we definitely have a chance that we will advance, ”said Ulmer. Villarreal is very strong. “They have real quality up front.” For example with the former Dortmund goal getter Paco Alcacer or the Spanish international striker Gerard Moreno. Ulmer: “We have to be extremely careful going backwards. It’s a very experienced team. We must never feel safe, even in good phases. “
For Ulmer, the home game will be the 113th European Cup appearance of his career. Austria’s record player in this regard was one of only two regular Salzburg players alongside Andre Ramalho, who was suspended on Thursday, when Salzburg failed in the same round at Villarreal (1: 2 and 1: 3). However, the left-back emphasized that experience has been gained through the two recent Champions League appearances. “Our idea of football has remained very similar, but at certain stages we are smarter now.”
Trainer Jesse Marsch also contributed to the development. Ulmer emphasized the “attitude to every game and every training session” among the American. Mentality doesn’t just seem like a popular word for Marsch. “He pushes. The focus that is being put on the day is great – for all players. That cannot be taken for granted, ”said Ulmer. “Young players who have ups and downs become more consistent.”
Sekou Koita and Mohamed Camara (both 21) are such. The two team players from Mali are threatened with a ban because of positive doping tests, which are said to come from a medicine administered to the national team against altitude sickness. A judgment from UEFA is expected in a few weeks, Ulmer assured both colleagues full support.
“What they have done so far since it became public, you have to take off your hat,” said Salzburg’s captain about the two key players who should be in the starting lineup against Villarreal. “They perform very well, are fully there in training – and it’s not an easy time for them at the moment. How they can put that away and help us is amazing. “
Ulmer himself takes care of his body. The Upper Austrian can therefore well imagine playing for Salzburg for a few more years. His current contract runs until the summer of 2022. “There are examples in the sports world, if you look at your body, that you can pursue your hobby and dream job for a long time,” the 21-time ÖFB team player referred to the Super Bowl record winner Tom Brady. The 43-year-old is an inspiration not only for him, but for many athletes.
“To be able to perform at that age, to be so hungry and focused, and to subordinate everything to the sport – that is impressive, mentally and physically,” said Ulmer of Brady. He did not set an end point for himself. “As long as I’m fit, as long as I can keep up and have fun, I want to play.” Participation in the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022 is also possible. “To be at such an event is something very special,” said Ulmer. “But it doesn’t just depend on me.”
The start of the World Cup qualification in March and then the EM in summer are waiting for now. Ulmer is part of the ÖFB team with Franco Foda, in contrast to his predecessor Marcel Koller. He has not yet given concrete thought to his first major tournament. “You don’t even know exactly how everything will work out,” explained the man from Linz. An EM “with crowds” would definitely be better than without it, said Ulmer.
Does the current national team perhaps have the best prerequisites in history to be successful at a European Championship because of the enormous density of available top-class players? “The selection of players at a high level is very large. In the end, what counts is what comes out, ”emphasized Ulmer. “If we win everything, we are the best national team, if we don’t win anything, then we won’t. It’s all about what we achieve. “