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“I've never talked about the table before.”

“I've never talked about the table before.”

In the first match of the Second League between GAK and DSV Leoben on Saturday (2:30pm live >>>), a preliminary decision could be made in the battle for promotion to the ADMIRAL Bundesliga.

Nine rounds before the end of the season, the Graz team leads by 14 points over the Leoben team, and a victory in the summit match may mean a return to the council of advisors for 17 years. At DSV Leoben, three days after being eliminated from the cup in the semi-final against Rapid, a new coach is in charge.

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“I never talked about the table internally.”

In any case, successful GAK coach Gernot Messner leaves the starting position ahead of the cold Styrian derby. Messner emphasized: “We never talked about the table internally, nor did we utter a single word about promotion in any official meeting.”

Of course, the Graz team is also looking at the table, but that does not change their position. The 43-year-old added: “It sounds boring, but we are always only interested in the next match. The 22nd match out of 30, that is our motto. We want to win every match.”

Messner admitted that if the win over DSV is achieved, a preliminary decision will likely be made on Leoben. However, the coach did not want to rule out other pursuers such as SV Ried – the Bundesliga relegation side had lost 1-0 to GAK the week before and are currently 16 points behind in fourth place.

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League season record for GAK

“It seems low-risk,” said Messner, whose contract expires in the summer. “But it is clear that everyone wants to go to a higher level.” He added: “We are in talks, and things are moving in the right direction.”

Promotion to the top flight would come as a welcome relief for GAK after a thrilling final run of the previous season, when they missed out on promotion to the Bundesliga at the last minute with a 1-1 draw at Dornbirn. However, a special atmosphere awaits at the Merkur Arena on Saturday, where more than 6,800 tickets have been sold in advance, which means a season's league record for second-placed Graz.

The fact that Leoben has another game in hand on Wednesday evening with a cup win against Rapid (0:3) could be a small advantage for the Graz team. “From a physiological point of view, a normal training week is better than an English week,” Messner said. “We are not used to it in the second division, but it is certainly manageable for once.”

Former DSV Poms coach GAK may no longer be available

Just before his resignation during the week, Poms speculated that Leoben's professionals “will certainly not be the newest.”

The Poms are not expecting any major changes at the top of the table. “GAK were already relatively ahead in the winter. They have quality and it was assumed that they would not give up their lead. They have shown that so far,” he said.

Messner emphasized that DSV consistently played their brave game, switching dangerous positions in a 3-4-3 system throughout the season, including against Rapid. And perhaps also with a new coach at the top in Graz.

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