Round 6

Top 3 Players of Round 6:

Round 6 of the Tipico Bundesliga was another incredible weekend of footballing entertainment, combining excellent attacking intent and woeful defending. The 5 games produced a cracking 25 goals. To put that into some kind of perspective, in 9 Bundesliga games in Germany, only 22 goals were scored. Here is the full round-up of results:

SK Sturm Graz 1-2 Wolfsberger AC
Red Bull Salzburg 5-0 SC Rheindorf Altach
SV Ried 2-2 SV Grödig
SC Wiener Neustadt 5-4 FC Admira Wacker
FK Austria Vienna 2-2 SK Rapid Vienna.

#1 Abd Al Rahman Osman Ali – Osman Ali, a free Summer signing for Neustadt from Kapfenberger SV in the Erste Liga, had a Bundesliga debut to remember. The 28-year old from Vienna, who plays predominantly on the right-hand side of midfield, achieved a goal and three assists. His goal was a beautifully taken strike following a Neustadt break-away from an Admira corner. Mario Ebenhofer had his shot excellently saved by Andreas Leitner, but the rebound fell to Osman Ali who rifled past the Admira goalkeeper from a seemingly impossible angle. His assists were also all well thought out and executed with precision. The first assist came from a training ground routine, as he combined with American Conor O’Brien from a corner. The American, from OB Odense in Denmark, nutmegged a defender and curled in a beauty to give Neustadt the lead. The second assist, again from a set-piece, highlighted Osman Ali’s composure as he laid off a simple pass for Kristijan Dobras to rifle home, on what was his first start of the season. His final assist, which allowed Herbert Rauter to get his third goal of the season, was the pick of the bunch. Osman Ali took the ball from his own half, raced down the right-hand side, left Thomas Ebner for dead and picked the 32-year old out for the simplest of finishes. Debuts don’t get much better than this!
Osman Ali

#2 Alan Carvalho – Surprisingly, this is Alan’s first entry onto the blog, given last season he scored 26 goals in the league. The Brazilian native who has been hampered by illness and injuries this season, finally looked his old self. It was Alan who drew the foul from Jan Zwischenbrugger, inside the box, which got the ball rolling as Jonathan Soriano scored his 10th goal of the season from the spot. The 25-year old striker, who had been linked with clubs such as SS Lazio last season, finished off the scoring in the first half. Alan showed in this game why he shouldn’t be afforded any time or space around the box, as he struck home to make the score 3-0, leaving Martin Kobras no chance in the Altach net. The second half had a completely different pace to it, with Salzburg clearly having one eye on the second leg of the Champions League play-off game. The Brazilian though, who could have easily scored another one or two goals in this game, got his second from a corner. Valentino Lazaro, 18, a full Austrian international, whipped in a perfect corner which Alan despatched clinically with his head. Despite the game clearly being over, neither Alan or Lazaro were finished. With the final action of the game Alan’s blocked shot rebounded to Lazaro to fire in his second goal of the season. The Bulls have now scored 29 goals in 6 games, conceding only once and it appears no-one will stop them!

#3 Herbert Rauter – The 32-year old attacking midfielder, who can play as a second striker, has been in fine form for Wiener Neustadt this season, with 5 goals and 1 assist in all competitions. Rauter was once again on-song as he was an influential figure in the 5-4 victory for Heimo Pfeifenberger’s men. Rauter, who started his career in Graz, got on the scoresheet with a simple finish, as mentioned above, following great work by Osman Ali. His assist was another piece of great team play as he combined with Mario Ebenhofer, 10 years his junior, with a quick-thinking ‘doppelpass’. Ebenhofer duly smashed the ball home to give the home side a 4-3 lead, having been 3-2 down after 66 minutes. Although there were other candidates for getting into the top 3 such as Conor O’Brien, Lukas Thürauer and Eldis Bajrami, it was Rauter’s efficiency on the ball that gives him the nod. Rauter attempted 30 passes during the 90 minutes, achieving a whopping 86.7% successful passing rate, with an 87% success rate coming in the opposition’s half. In comparison, Thürauer, for Admira, achieved a 79.2% success rate and 68.8% success rate in the opposition’s half, albeit, he attempted 48 passes. Regardless, it was the best attacking display I have seen from Wiener Neustadt in the past year or so, and much of that credit has to go to Rauter.
Herbert Rauter
A week to forget for:

Both Vienna sides – Another round, another week without a win. The Vienna-Derby provided a great chance for both sides to finally get themselves out of their terrible league positions. However, a 2-2 draw helped neither side. It means that Rapid have not won a game since their 1-0 victory over SV Ried in round 2, and the Violets are still looking for their first victory of the season. They lie 5th and 7th respectively, a whopping 12 and 13 points behind the league leaders.

Tipico Bundesliga goalkeepers and defenders – As much I love the league for all the drama and goals, the defending (or lack of) was eye-opening this weekend. It is likely to be a busy week for the defensive coaches on the training grounds, whilst the attacking and shooting coaches will be getting a pat on the back from their managers.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and vote in the poll below (Sandi Lovric was my favourite nominee last week!)

Round 5

Top 3 Players of Round 5:

The Austrian Bundesliga, now into its fifth round, once again threw up a few surprises. In particular, SC Rheindorf Altach’s away victory against SK Rapid Vienna, was not only an unexpected result, but also a clear indication of how poor a few of the ‘big’ sides have been this season. Here is the full round-up of results:

SK Rapid Vienna 0-1 SC Rheindorf Altach
FC Admira Wacker 0-3 Red Bull Salzburg
SV Grodig 3-0 SC Wiener Neustadt
Wolfsberger AC 4-1 SV Ried
SK Sturm Graz 1-1 FK Austria Vienna.

#1 Marcel Sabitzer – Sabitzer, a product of the Admira youth, has benefitted from Alan’s illness and injury luck this season, and now has 3 goals in the league already for Salzburg. On Saturday against Admira, in a ground Salzburg have notoriously struggled in, it was Sabitzer and his team-mate Massimo Bruno who ran the show. Bruno, a season-long loan signing from Red Bull Leipzig, who themselves signed the Belgian from Anderlecht this Summer, opened the scoring with a perfectly struck first-time volley into the top corner, having been played in by the aforementioned Sabitzer. The 20-year old Austrian finished the game with a goal himself, scoring the final goal of the game, with a terrific header, despite the cross by Peter Ankersen being just behind him. It remains to be seen if he can cement his place in the starting XI when Alan is 100% fit, but what we do already know is that he is one of the biggest Austrian talents and his stock is only rising.

Marcel Sabitzer

#2 Jacobo – The 30-year old Spaniard makes another appearance on this list, but only after another 2 assists, taking his tally to 6 assists in 5 games. The left-sided midfielder has continued to impress for Wolfsberger AC, and in their 4-1 dismantling of SV Ried, it  was no different. Dietmar Kübhauer’s men have matched Salzburg toe-to-toe and have won 5 games out of 5. In fairness to the rest of the squad, it has been an absolute team-effort with Peter Zulj, Tadej Trdina, Boris Hüttenbrenner, Manuel Weber, Christopher Wernitznig, Joachim Standfest and even Manuel Kerhe off the bench in recent games, having outstanding seasons. The Spaniard was again dangerous from set-pieces, and it was from his corner that Tadej Trdina fortunately headed against a defender and into the back of the net to get Wolfsberger back on level terms, following a wonderful freekick by Oliver Kragl, that had put the away side ahead. The second assist was a lightening quick breakaway down the left. Jacobo curled in a perfectly aimed and weighted ball and substitute Manuel Kerhe was able to finish to get his second goal in as many games. Overall, Jacobo had the teams highest amount of passing attempts (35) and was only second in the side to Peter Zulj in terms of passing success (77.4%). Definition of a good team player right there.

#3 Andreas Leitner – Coming into the game against Salzburg on the weekend, anybody could have predicted that it would be a tough game for 20-year old Leitner in the Admira net. However, the youngster from Leoben, Austria, definitely proved Walter Knaller right in giving him the gloves ahead of Manuel Kuttin, who spent much of the second half of last season as the number one goalkeeper. The youngster could not do anything about any of the goals, although his positioning for the second Salzburg goal by Christian Schwegler was a little suspect. Regardless, the goalkeeper made 9 saves throughout the game, one of which was a brilliant show of agility as he expertly tipped over a Nils Quaschner deflected cross, that looked destined for the back of the net. Ultimately, it could have been a much higher scoreline if it hadn’t been for Leitner, and it is pleasing to see a goalkeeper that isn’t Cican Stankovic on this list!

Andreas Leitner

Week to forget for:

Deni Alar – The poor attacker from Rapid Vienna has been ruled out for an extensive amount of time following what was originally thought to be a minor foot injury.

Gerald Baumgartner – Every week is a bad week for the Austria Vienna coach at the minute. His side remains win-less after a score-draw with Sturm Graz, having taken the lead and spent much of the game in the ascendency. His team just cannot keep a clean sheet!

Oliver Glasner – Pressure is starting to pile on the SV Ried coach, as he side failed to perform once again. The former Salzburg assistant started the campaign well, but he has confirmed he could be in the market for new players, with fans becoming increasingly disgruntled after only 1 point in their last 4 games.

My Team of the Month (19.07-17.08):

Team of the month

Team of the month

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and vote in the poll below.

Round 4

Top 3 Players of Round 4:

I’ve decided to mix things up a little in the fourth edition of the blog. In the previous posts I have given brief overviews of the 5 Bundesliga games, but given I cannot post much sooner than Tuesdays, most of you will have either seen the highlights or the scores of the games by now. In case you hadn’t, here are the final scores:

SC Wiener Neustadt 2-2 Fk Austria Vienna
SV Ried 1-1 Admira Wacker
Sk Rapid Vienna 1-1 SK Sturm Graz
SC Rheindorf Altach 1-2 Wolfsberger AC
Red Bull Salzburg 8-0 SV Grödig.

#1 Jonathan Soriano – The 28-year old Spaniard benefitted in the Salzburg-Derby on Sunday from tired defending and great service from those around him. Soriano had a hattrick before half-time with the Bulls leading 5-0. He scored another two goals after the break to take his total to 5, a feat matched by only three other players in the history of the Austrian Bundesliga (Axel Lawaree, Gernot Jurtin and Hans Krankl). It should be noted that three of his goals were put on a platter for him, but his positioning in particular, meant that he was in the right place at the right time. The pick of his goals was a magnificent chip over Cican Stankovic, which he made look easy, but in fact showed great technique (see also Tadej Trdina’s opening goal vs. Altach). The Bundesliga superstar now has 9 goals in 3 appearances, having been rested against SV Ried last week, and a magnificent 94 goals in 101 Red Bull appearances.

Jonathan Soriano

#2 Sadio Mané – The second place for me was a coin-toss between Mané and Kevin Kampl (given I didn’t want to have three Salzburg players on my list). Both the Senegalese & Slovenian winger were untouchable in the Salzburg Derby and between them they were directly contributed to 5 of the 8 goals. The Senegalese winger edges it however, given he achieved a goal and two assists, over Kampl’s measly two assists! The first 45 minutes were a throwback to the days under Roger Schmidt, with the offensive pressing allowing Salzburg to run riot against teams in the Red Bull Arena, and it gave for a vintage display by Mané who had been largely unimpressive under Adi Hütter. The African winger set up Soriano’s fourth and fifth goals, but that was after he had doubled the lead at only 2-0 following great work down the right by Kampl, giving Mané the chance for an easy tap-in past the despairing Stankovic. The second half was a slightly different story with Mané far less bloodthirsty, but it allowed for youngster Valentino Lazaro to take centre stage, as he also grabbed a goal and an assist himself.


#3 Jacobo – Jacobo made my top 3 players last week, perhaps rather luckily in hindsight, but I have no hesitations granting him a place this week. The Spaniard was everywhere against Altach, in a game where the Wolves spent large parts with their backs against the wall. One pivotal moment in the first half saw Patrick Seeger for the home side break away following a Wolfsberger set piece. The winger dribbled perfectly into the box, but just as he was about to pull the trigger with the goal at his mercy, it was Jacobo with a pivotal last-ditch prod to take the ball away from the Austrian. It has been widely recognised that Jacobo looks like a different player this season, and he is playing like a true leader. With the score at 1-1, and the game seemingly heading for a draw, it was the Spaniard who grabbed the winning goal in the 84th minute, to give Wolfsberger four wins out of four. The goal came from a dangerous cross down the right hand side by Manuel Kerhe (who recently rejected a move to Spezia in Serie B), and Jacobo met it perfectly with a late run into the box to guide it past Martin Kobras in the Altach net. A slightly undeserved win for Wolfsberger in the end, but they definitely had that man Jacobo to thank for it after the final whistle.


Week to forget:
Gerald Baumgartner – The Austria Vienna coach is still waiting on his first win of the season after another disappointing performance by his side, as they could only draw against the league’s bottom side Wiener Neustadt.

Robert Berić – It could have been a great day for the Slovenian after he opened the scoring with a free header (some of the worst goalkeeper positioning by Christian Gratzei I have ever seen for this goal too). Instead, Berić was involved in an altercation between Stefan Hofmann and Anel Hadzic, resulting in a straight red card for violent conduct for the former Sturm striker. Sturm ended up getting a late equalizer through Marco Djuricin. Berić later apologised to his team and the fans.

SV Grödig– A record 8-0 loss in the Salzburg-Derby, no need to say much more.

Round 3

Top 3 Players of Round 3:

Following a dismal week in Europe for the three Austrian sides currently involved in qualification, the third instalment of the Bundesliga provided great relief with some impressive individual and team performances. In this round, there were 12 goals (Daniel Offenbacher with the pick of the goals), 2 red cards (both two yellows) and one penalty (won and converted by Marco Djuricin). Saturday begun with a tight affair between Admira Wacker and SK Rapid Vienna. The Green and Whites have found this fixture particularly hard in recent years. Last season they failed to pick up a single point in the BSFZ-Arena. The first half followed this pattern with Admira scoring the only goal through a clinical breakaway goal by Thorsten Schick. However, the game changed for Walter Knaller’s side when captain and defensive talisman Richard Windbichler, was sent off for a second bookable offence. From that moment forward, Rapid Vienna were in control of the game and finally got the equalizer when Florian Kainz, on his full debut following his move from SK Sturm Graz, scuffed his shot passed a wrong-footed Andreas Leitner in the Admira goal. It was a classic case of ‘what if’s’ for both sides, as the match subsequently finished 1-1. Elsewhere, Sturm Graz picked up their first points of the season at home to Wiener Neustadt with a 4-2 victory. The result did not come without drama, however. At half time the away side were 2-1 up following great finishing by Daniel Schöpf and Herbert Rauter. Poor defending ultimately cost the away side though, with Mattias Sereinig the main offender. The 29-year-old conceded a penalty and set up the first Sturm goal with a lazy clearance against Marco Djuricin, which looped into the back of the net. The final goal of the game was an absolute beauty with Daniel Offenbacher smashing the ball past Thomas Vollnhofer from all of 30 yards out. Oliver Glasner’s Ried side meanwhile, suffered a 2-0 loss to his former employers at home. Despite awful weather conditions and Adi Hütter’s mind clearly being on the Champions League 2nd leg qualifier in midweek, Red Bull Salzburg stumbled to victory. In a lacklustre affair with far too many stoppages and fouls, a Franz Schiemer header (who was later sent off) and Massimo Bruno’ s first Bundesliga goal in stoppage time, it was enough for the 3 points and has kept them at the top of the table on goal difference. FK Austria Vienna’s poor start to the season continued with a goalless draw to SC Rheindorf Altach. The away side, despite having only played two league games this season due to a postponement in the last round, are now the only side in the league yet to have conceded this season. A feat made more impressive considering they are a newly promoted side. Gerald Baumgartner, on the other hand, is going to have to turn things around for the Viennese side. With new signing Omer Damari from Hapoel Tel Aviv apparently the one to step into Philipp Hosiner’s role, perhaps he will be the pivotal figure in their fight to get back into Europe this season. The Sunday game between SV Grödig and Wolfsberger AC was apparently watched by scouts from Germany and Italy, who were taking a look at Grödig goalkeeper, Cican Stankovic. They were treated to one of the games of the season so far, with Wolfsberger running out deserved 2-0 victors. The game had an excellent flow and intensity to it, with both teams not afraid to attack, but Wolfsberger were the far more clinical side during the 90 minutes. Peter Zulj, brother of Robert Zulj (formerly of RBS), scored his second goal of the season, with both his goals incidentally being set up by Slovenian Tadej Trdina. The game was effectively won in the 68th minute when Boris Hüttenbrenner met a Jacobo corner with a powerful header, steering it past the helpless Stankovic in the home side’s net. Dietmar Kühbauer’s men following this win are joint-top on 9 points with a goal difference of +9, a magnificent feat, I just hope they can keep this kind of form up for the rest of the season. For Grödig, they now have to concentrate on overturning a 2-1 deficit against Moldovan side Zimbru in the Europa League 3rd round qualifiers.

The players:

#1 Jacobo – Jacobo has been somewhat of a revelation this season. The 30-year-old Spaniard showed glimmers of class last season following groin surgery, which took him out until March, but he has been on another level in these past 3 league games. In particular, Jacobo’s set pieces have been extremely accurate and he has now achieved 4 assists and a goal of his own. Against Grödig, Jacobo was a live-wire on the left against Simon Handle (who was coming off the back of a terrible performance against Zimbru). Had others taken their chances, Jacobo could have left this game with 3 or 4 assists but his sole assist came from a whipped in corner that Boris Huttenbrenner finished off with his head. I can only hope Jacobo keeps up his form as he definitely seems to be one of the driving forces behind Wolfsberger’s fantastic start. Bring on Altach!

#2 Marco Djuricin – Djuricin had been a bit of a disappointment in the first two league games this season for Sturm Graz. I had tipped him to be a star this season and against Wiener Neustadt, things finally went his way. Djuricin played like a man possessed throughout the game and always seemed to have half a yard on his nearest defender. The 21-year-old was incredibly lucky with his first goal as Mattias Sereinig literally cleared the ball against Djuricin and the ball looped in. Obviously that will not earn someone a place on this list. In the second half though, with his side trailing 2-1, Djuricin took the game to the away side. He got Sturm level by luring Sereinig into a foul just inside the box, and the striker confidently scored the penalty. Djurcin was also heavily involved in the third Sturm goal, as Christian Klem scored his first Bundesliga goal in 118 appearances. If the third goal hadn’t killed off the tie, it was over when Daniel Offenbacher smashed in the fourth goal in the 74th minute. Hopefully this a sign for things to come, but it should be noted Neustadt boast arguably the worst defence in the league. Darko Milanic has stated though “Without Djuricin? All is lost.” – showing his importance to the side.

Marco Djuricin
#3 Peter Zulj – I have been a fan of Zulj since I saw him at Hartberg last season. The attacking midfielder has pace, flair and great technique, but in my opinion, is one of the most inconsistent performers with his amount of quality. The 21-year-old however, has been part of the Wolfsberger AC that seem unbeatable at the moment. Against Grödig, Zulj was a constant threat through the middle and he often found himself in dangerous positions in the box, late into moves (something all defenders hate). His goal was a well taken one as he had to control Tadej Trdina’s ball on the move and get his shot off before Cican Stankovic closed him down. In the end, this is exactly what he did, and he struck his shot powerfully under the Austrian goalkeeper to get the opener. With the game becoming more open in the second half as Grödig chased the game, Zulj should have scored at least one more, but it was not meant to be. It will be interesting to see how he gets on next weekend against an Altach side who have been extremely stubborn this season.

Feedback and comments are welcome. Please vote for the player you think deserved to be the top player this round.