The Styrians in no way underestimated Vorarlberger, since Elzer “very much liked” Lustenau’s performance in the last few weeks. The rival Storm coach found a “brave performance against Salzburg, a home win over Austria Wien and a solid game against LASK”. Therefore, it is important for his team to “exploit the full potential, bring full conviction and sharpness to the pitch, prepare at this stage and offer immeasurable things to Graz with great passion and cohesion.” Second in the table has won 16 of their 17 competitive duels to date, with only one ending in a draw. Gregory Wuterich, Jacob Jantscher, Otar Kitishvili and Alban Ajeti will be absent with muscle injuries. William Boving (ligament tear syndrome) and Moritz Wells (meniscus) are still in advanced training.
The controversial LASK match was echoed again and again this week in Lustenau. Coach Marcus Mader did not want to say more words about the highly questionable penalty decision, instead focusing the analysis on what could be affected: “The team in Linz did well for 90 minutes.” According to Mader, a “high performance” against Sturm was needed to continue the strong home series. Lustenau was unbeaten in four home matches, and the team did not concede a single goal in three of these four home matches. And Mader has to dispense with Lukas Frederikas, who gave Lustenau three points last time around with his goal against Austria. The striker is missing with a yellow lock. Hannes Kong (patient) and Julius Bilash (rehabilitation training) will not be able to play.
Austria advances in three rounds before the end of the regular season, hoping for sixth place in the league and does not want to give it up. First, Reed is opposed to the Innviertel. Purple Sports Leadership sees the team as mission-ready. “Now we go to Reed and we want to get three points there as well,” said coach Michael Wimmer. He warned that “there are no easy opponents in the league and perhaps a change of coach at Reed will unleash new energy”. But that doesn’t matter to your team, Wimmer says. His new stadium will be further improved. One of the beneficiaries was Haris Tabakovich, and the striker scored four goals in three rounds. In terms of personnel, there is a question mark again in Austria. Reinhold Ranftel did not start training until Friday after falling ill, and his participation in the starting line-up is uncertain. Goalkeeper Christian Frochtel, who had to leave the field at the end of the first half against Hartberg due to a suspected concussion, made his return.
Reid is hoping to make a coaching impact under new coach Maximilian Senft. He took over from Christian Heinel this week, who had to leave after a 0:2 in Salzburg. The 33-year-old Senft was on the line with the amateur Reds team. Also on the supervisory staff is Gerhard Schweitzer, who is supposed to contribute his experience from the “observer role”. Senft wanted to work on his own “conduct” in the three days leading up to the match against Austria. His team must “conquer the ball with power and dynamism and play powerful counter-attacks”. There is respect for the opponent. “But we focus too much on ourselves.” Ryder also hopes fans will feel behind them again. Senft said the opponent should “feel the wild winds in Reid”. The team is responsible for stirring up emotions on the field.
In the final rounds, the WAC prepares for the next task in the qualifying group so that points are shared. After the recent defeat against Rapid, it is hard to make the leap into the top six. Before the first leg in Hartberg, coach Robin Dutt mentioned “the different ways of achieving goals”. “You always have to be aware of the situation,” Dutt said of the current situation. “A lot of people work towards the end of the base round, but that’s just an intermediate goal, just part of the whole tournament.” What the German is after: The top team in the qualifying group can still hope for an international place in the European Cup play-off. Failing on defense, Dutt identified the problem area there: the current three-man series is not well rehearsed. In the foreground she matches Ty Baribou and Maurice Malone. “We are still the team that scored the second most goals,” Dutt said. Replacement goalkeeper Lukas Guttbauer must undergo shoulder surgery and will be out until the summer.
At Hartberg, Markus Schöpp takes the lead with the clear goal of staying in class. East Stereon presented themselves improving in the early spring rounds, winning at Reed, but then losing out on points themselves. In the last 0: 3 in Austria, Schaub saw mistakes in defense that prevented him from winning a possible point. Schop saw “things that need to be fixed”. There are signs of changes. “But things can happen very quickly in football. If we change the switch once, we will soon be rewarded,” said Schaub. With a home win, the leap to 10th place looms, if Altach loses in Klagenfurt. At home, Hartberg remains winless against Wydad in the Bundesliga. The record is three draws and two defeats. The WAC is the team Hartberg has played the most games against in history at the competitive level. Now there are 40 of them, 12 of them won by the Styrians, and 16 by the Carinthians. The first duel of the season went 3-1 to Wydad.
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