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Sturm welcomes Salzburg to the Easter summit

Sturm welcomes Salzburg to the Easter summit

Easter brings a live duel between the title contenders in the Bundesliga Championship group at 5pm. Rival Sturm Graz could push series champion Salzburg off the top of the standings with a home win at the end of Round 24, while Salzburg, on the contrary, could go five points clear with complete success. In the four-way battle behind them, third-placed LASK will host Austria Klagenfurt at 2:30pm, and Rapid will play at Hartberg.

The situation in the title fight is similar to what it was a year ago. At that time, Sturm also reached the top of the tournament in the 26th round, but had to bow out with a score of 0-2 at home. “But we are still in a very weak role and we need a big performance on Sunday,” recalled Sturm coach Christian Elzer on Friday. “Salzburg is a field of strength that we want to hold a candle to for as long as possible.”

A match in front of 15,600 spectators could have a signaling effect. Never since the halving of the points system was reintroduced in the 2018/19 season has Salzburg been the leaders after a match in the Championship group. The two local giants will meet again on Thursday in the cup semi-finals, with Salzburg having the advantage at home.

Salzburg player Alexander Schlager said: “The match against Sturm is not just a top match. The two best teams in Austria meet.” Schlager is certain of victory. The two duels this season ended in a draw. “We are well prepared. We will go there, do our job well and then return to Salzburg with a win.” Coach Gerhard Struber also says: “On Sunday we will definitely face a very motivated opponent who will try everything to snatch points from us.” But you must be prepared for this. The statistics also show that Salzburg are there at the decisive moment. Sturm could only score in one of the ten group matches of the tournament (2-1 on 27 April 2022).

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There is also an impressive score reduction in LASK. Linz celebrated her latest victory 15 weeks ago. The home game against Austria Klagenfurt is the next opportunity to break out of the vacuum of success. Despite the dry spell, Linzers have managed to maintain third place so far, although this position fluctuates a lot given the tight position in the table. There is a risk of falling to fifth place. After all, Carinthians are favorites, having beaten them four times in eight matches and four draws. The use of goalkeeper Robert Zolg is questionable due to his knee injury.

During the international break they celebrated a 1-0 friendly win over German third division side 1860 München. LASK coach Thomas Sageder tried to adjust the mentality to give his young attacking players the “necessary agility”. This will be necessary to put the Klagenfurt team, which (according to Sajder) is “very uncomfortable to play in,” in its place.

However, Peter Bacolt's Carinthian side have repeatedly broken through such barriers in recent seasons. “We are going there to take something immeasurable with us,” defender Till Schumacher said ahead of the trip to Linz. After all, after finishing sixth in previous seasons, Violet wants more this time. “It would be absolute nonsense if we were satisfied with sixth place,” said captain Torsten Mahrer.

Record holders Rapid Vienna visit surprise TSV Hartberg in their first match after the international break, with important points at stake in the four-way battle for third place. The Hartbergers will be hoping to continue their successful streak against the Green and White. In the previous two duels this season, Hartberg won 1-0. “Our big task now is to confirm that. The performance and result must be correct,” coach Markus Schopp said. “We can classify the two matches. We were very lucky in the home match. But we worked for that.” “

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By this, Schaub means the performance in the entire main round, in which his team finished ahead of Rapid after 22 laps. “There is no need to talk about luck, we deserved to be in front.” The East Styrian side's strength at home is undeniable at the moment, with TSV having not lost in front of their own fans in eight games or since last August. Schopp, who will have to do without suspended defender Ebani Boate against Rapid, said it was difficult to find an explanation for this. “We want to appear very brave at home and abroad.”

The Rapidler, who has not lost in seven official matches, hopes to achieve victory again after drawing 1-1 with Klagenfurt and Austria Lustenau at the start of the group stage of the tournament. “Everything is equal. We are not going anywhere to play a draw,” coach Robert Claus emphasized. “In April, it's all about it. We say crunch time.” Hoteldorfer are currently fourth in the table, one point behind third-placed LASK, and due to the star, are ahead of Hartbergers on the same points, who are currently sixth.

At Hartberg, Klaus can once again rely on Marko Grohl and Thorsten Schick, who were both recently suspended. Only Guido Burgstaller will have to miss any matches following the post-derby verbal swerve, and the goalscorer will return for the cup semi-final against second division club DSV Leoben on Wednesday. Furkan Dursun, who was recently replaced, will be out for between three and five weeks with an ankle injury. “It's a shame, he was in a good mood and provided good inspiration,” Klaus said of the Under-19 player.

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