Ironically, with the last title holder to date, who isn’t named Salzburg, the Austrian series champion can pop a champagne cork on Sunday (2.30pm). However, Wiener Austria does not want to put any gifts in the Easter basket for guests. If Rapid wins in Sturm Graz at the same time, Salzburg can secure the championship title early. In Sunday’s third game, Wolfsberg wants to end their losing streak to table bottom Klagenfurt (5:00 pm).
“The fact that we could already be champions this weekend plays absolutely no part in the preparations,” Salzburg coach Matthias Giseli explained in a club broadcast. “You have to come together a bit, because the victory over Austria is only enough to win the early title if Rapid beat Sturm at the same time. We must focus on our game and our performance.” Gisele stressed that Austria will not give his team anything for sure, which he probably has to do without Creative player Brenden Aronson (knee) again. “Austria are very unpleasant opponents and it is not easy to play. We have to fully focus to continue our streak.”
In fourth-placed Austria, the negative headlines about the Bundesliga’s refusal to licence should be pushed into the background with an engaging performance. That is why it is important for coach Manfred Schmid to “focus on the task that we can influence”. According to Schmid, the team “didn’t react at all” to the licensing issue. He takes this as a good sign. The two pre-season games gave the Violets their courage, and both of them narrowly scored 1-0 to Salzburg thanks to goals from Karim Adeyemi. “Boys die to play, they have not forgotten the close defeats.”
In the simultaneous duel between Sturm Graz and Rapid, the Austrian football champion can be crowned indirectly, but in the Merkur Arena the focus is not on the race for first place, but for second place. With six laps remaining, Sturm has a five-point lead over Rapid in second, followed by Austria by one point.
“It looks like it is,” Rapid coach Ferdinand Feldhofer said before being asked if Storm was Austria’s number two force. However, Feldhofer sees good opportunities for his team. “We certainly haven’t made the situation worse since the last match against Sturm (note: 2-2 in February in Graz), quite the contrary. The personnel condition at Rapid has eased slightly recently, with Verdi Drogev back in the team along with Marco Grol. Storm coach Christian Elzer says he expects a game with “many duels, high intensity and tough duels”. The last encounter so far has been a “quick fight”. This could be his first home game in Graz Sold out for a long time. Sold out. 14,000 tickets out of 15,400 already on Friday.
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