In Walls-Siesenheim on Sunday (5 pm) the highly anticipated final of the Austrian football championship will be played between Red Bull Salzburg and Storm Graz. By winning, Salzburgers could no longer claim their tenth victory inside their ward. Already at 2.30 pm LASK is a guest of SK Rapid, which needs points in the fight for European Cup places after six matches without a win. Rapid’s direct competition meets in the duel of Austria Klagenfurt – Austria, Vienna.
We met after the derby victory over Rapid, Austria Wien in good spirits – but today’s opponent Austria Klagenfurt knew how to get Wiener Violetten out one last time.
“We worked hard to be able to close the sack on Sunday,” Salzburg coach Matthias Gisli said in the run-up to the title match against Sturm. For Salzburg, this will be the 17th title overall, and the national series will continue with ten championships. “Winning 10 titles in a row would be a great story,” sporting director Christoph Freund said. Salzburg are unbeaten in their 40 home league matches.
However, the season’s record speaks for the opposition, as Sturm celebrated with two wins and a draw, including a cup semi-final. In all competitions, the Grazers have only lost one of their last five matches against the perennial champions – that was 0:2 in Graz in their last meeting on 23 April. If the people of Graz triumph in Salzburg, they still have a chance to win the cup and championship double. Sunday’s loss will decide the race with two laps to go before the season ends. Because even if Team Geisel gives up its six-point lead in the last two rounds, Salzburg will eventually be seeded ahead because of the round that took place after the regular season.
What is certain is that Salzburg will also have to replace a team that has been weakened by numerous injuries at the crucial stage of the tournament. After all, the recently suspended Strahinja Pavlovic and Nicolas Capaldo will be back at the weekend. On the other hand, Sturm coach Christian Elzer has almost the entire squad. “Alban Ajeti, Sandro Ingolic and Aleksandar Borkovic are still missing through injury. David Schnegg still has minor problems with his shoulder, and we’ll have to wait until Sunday to see if it’s possible to play,” said Strian, who reported a great game. “. All of Austria,” he spoke. “It is unusual that there are still so many blowouts with three rounds to go – this is mainly due to us and is a testament to our strength and cohesion, not because Salzburg left so much behind this year.”
After their last three defeats in a row and six matches without a win, Rapid have to get back on track in the home game against LASK on Sunday – or else there is a risk of extending the season or even losing international business. Three laps before the end, Hüteldorfer was only in fifth place, which meant that he would play in the play-offs for the European Cup and thus two more matches.
If the green and white drop to sixth in the main group, they can focus exclusively on national duties in 2023/24. However, coach Zoran Barisic tried to spread optimism. “We will try to follow our plan. We want to win, do well and entertain the fans in a positive and good way,” Venis declared.
The defeat against Austria is done, and there is once again a “positive energy” within the team. “We know we’ve always shown very good performances at home lately,” said Barisic. “We’re going to approach the game with a lot of courage and confidence. I suppose the team has got the turnaround.”
LASK coach Dietmar Kohbauer has big plans at his old workplace. “At the end of the season, it’s time to get everything we’ve got in our tanks. We’re looking forward to a game in front of a big crowd on Sunday and we want to take something away from Hütteldorf. We’ve proven that many times a season that we can keep in games like this – we want to confirm that.” Again this time,” Burgenlander explained.
With derby success in their baggage, Wiener Austria enters the deciding stages in high gear. The Rapid’s fourth place in the table – the equivalent of a start in the Conference League Qualifiers – should no longer be relinquished. In the third to last round, the favorites were warned by the hosts Austria Klagenfurt: the namesake won the last duel in Vienna 2-1.
Austria coach Michael Wimmer said he hoped to repeat last weekend’s performance, “We have to regain self-confidence and energy from winning the derby back to Klagenfurt.” Sporting director Manuel Urtleichner made a kind of appeal to the team: “The derby win is history again – no matter how great it is, it doesn’t help us on Sunday, you have to prove yourself every weekend.”
Nor should the defeat be repeated at home to Klagenfurt, who conceded in the last minute from the penalty spot. And Haris Tabakovic and Dominic Fitz went out against Carinthians, who were ranked sixth at the time, due to suspensions. The attacking duo recently conjured up the “Violets” to a 3-1 lead against Rapid, with Tabakovich scoring all three goals. The Swiss, who has scored 17 goals this season, has scored in Austria’s last five away matches.
For Peter Pacholt, the starting position is different now than it was four weeks ago. “At that time they were missing important people with Tabakovic and Fitz. Now they come in with a wide chest,” the Klagenfurt coach said. In this context, Bacholt reminded of the onset of spring. When his eleven goals were 3-1 against Austria, Tabakovic came on in the 23rd minute for the injured Fitz and laid the foundation for his goal streak in the new year with a brace.
Klagenfurt is sixth, but still has every chance of getting into the European Cup qualifiers in fifth place. Even fourth place would be possible with a home win against Austria. Rapid will also stop at Wörthersee on the last lap. Klagenfurt plays in Salzburg between matches against the big Viennese clubs.
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