Round 12

Top 3 Players of Round 12:

The 12th edition of the Tipico Bundesliga saw the resumption of ‘normal service’ as Red Bull Salzburg finally jumped back up to top spot, albeit on goal difference. Hütter’s side were fortunate to end the week on top as his former side SV Grödig, beat league rivals Wolsberger AC away from home in a game the Wolves felt they should have won. Elsewhere, the Viennese sides both failed to secure victories, in what continues to be a frustrating season for them. Despite Rapid’s dominance, in a game where they had 65% of total possession, they were unable to break the deadlock. City rivals, Austria Vienna finished the weekend in 7th place in the league. With the Violet’s Sporting Director, Thomas Parits, announcing this will be his farewell season, it remains to be seen if Gerald Baumgartner will remain as manager to say his goodbyes, as long as they languish well below expectations. Here are the full round-up of results:

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

#1 Andreas Leitner – Leitner has emerged this season as one of the brightest prospects in the league. Against Rapid Vienna he was in imperious form, commanding his area and leading from the back. The 20-year old Austrian has kept 4 clean sheets this season for a side that were tipped to be in a season-long relegation battle and has even starred for the Austrian U21’s too. In the Ernst-Happel Stadion, Leitner made four saves, as well as intercepting 5 crosses. The stats don’t tell the full story though. Leitner acted with confidence, catching when he could and punching when under pressure, he simply didn’t put a foot wrong in this game.Andreas Leitner

#2 Richard Windbichler – Windbichler is easily one of my favourite defenders in the league, although in recent times, he had been deployed by Walter Knaller in a defensive midfield role. However, against Rapid, he returned to his natural centre-half position and acted like a brick wall. The 23-year old ensured that the home side wouldn’t have their own way in this game, producing 5 blocks, 5 clearances and 3 interceptions, many of which were vital. The greatest indicator of how well Windbichler played is that Rapid’s top scorer, Robert Berić, who has 7 league goals this season, did not have a single shot on goal. It is worth noting however, that Windbichler had a great ‘partner in crime’, with Christoph Schößwendter also having a very strong game in the heart of the Admira defence.Windbichler

#3 Jonathan Soriano – I realised when I first started this blog, that some players would often feature, however, despite trying to include as many different players as possible, sometimes they just have to make the list. The Spaniard achieved another 2 goals in this game, taking his tally to 14 from 11 games. On top of this, he also set-up Marcel Sabitzer for his second goal, taking Soriano’s assist tally to 5. In the midst of this, he also managed to blow a perfect opportunity to get his hattrick by missing the target with a penalty- something he has become infamous for! Both his goals were typical Soriano goals. His first goal came following excellent work down the right hand side by Christoph Leitgeb, who found the Spaniard completely unmarked. The 29-year old then took Salzburg back in the lead to 2-1 as he followed up a Massimo Bruno shot that hit the post, to finish home with the ball bouncing to an awkward height. Had he scored from the spot, it would have marked a flawless performance by the league’s top scorer.Jonathan Soriano

Notable mention:
Marcel Sabitzer – The young Austrian secured the victory for the Bulls with an impressive cameo performance. With two shots, he scored two goals. Well played, sir.
Marcel Sabitzer

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Round 11

Top 3 Players of Round 11:

The final round of Tipico Bundesliga action before a two week international break saw the top three teams all claim maximum points. Wolfsberger’s victory over the Violets continued to quieten critics, who maybe eager to see the Wolves fall, despite their fantastic start to the campaign. The Bulls also silenced doubters by claiming their fourth win on the bounce, despite Hütter selecting a weakened side with Nils Quaschner and Massimo Bruno spearheading the attack, meaning they stayed three points behind the league leaders. Perhaps the most important victory however, was for Sturm, who under Franco Foda in his first game back in charge took all three points at home to Grödig, with his side particularly impressive in an action-packed second half. Here are the full round-up of results:

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

#1 Marco Djuricin – With the Blackies looking rather clueless in a tepid first half of football, the game against Grödig seemed destined to end a stalemate. Step forward Marco Djuricin, who with his 6th goal of the season took the game away from the Salzburg-based outfit. Djuricin, tipped for a bright future by many, looked a class above the rest, creating chances for others, but was also guilty of only scoring one himself. With the game 83 minutes in, a smart header across the box by Anel Hadzic, who was also extremely influential in the second half, found an unmarked Djuricin in the six-yard box to smash home. What had been a frustrating game for Foda on the sidelines, ultimately became a dream return with three points keeping his side in contact with the top four.Marco Djuricin

#2 Patrick Seeger – Seeger, 28, has seen opportunities extremely limited with Damir Canadi having plenty of opportunities, with Ivan Kovacec, Louis Ngwat-Mahop, Ismael Tajouri and Daniel Luxbacher all competing for places. However, Canadi gave Seeger a starting berth against Admira, and the winger repaid his manager’s faith with a fantastic performance. The Austrian who had previously spent time on loan at Admira during the 2012/13 season, tormented his former club, scoring one and setting up the other. In the build-up to Seeger’s goal he showed pace and power as he ran onto a perfect through-ball by Patrick Salomon, leaving a desperate Markus Katzer for dead and finishing past Andreas Leitner to make it 2-0. His assist was a little more lucky as he laid off an in-form Andreas Leinhart to smash in the ball with the outside of his foot from the edge of the area (on par with Herbert Rauter’s goal, for my goal of the round). Throughout the game, the Austrian was extremely dangerous and the majority of Altach’s dangerous attacks came down the right-hand side with Seeger and Leinhart combining well throughout. Patrick Seeger

#3 Jonathan Soriano – The Spaniard, despite only playing around 15 minutes against Wiener Neustadt makes this list given his impact in the Bulls 4-1 victory. Within 3 minutes of being on the field, Soriano scored his 12th goal of the season with a perfect freekick on the edge of the area, that debutant Domenik Schierl completely misread in the Neustadt goal. Within 10 minutes of being on the field, the score had doubled from 2-1 to 4-1, with the 28-year old cleverly picking out Slovenian superstar Kevin Kampl with his head, allowing Kampl to smash home through the legs of Schierl. It was two moments of clinical play by the league’s top scorer and how he hasn’t been picked up by a team outside Austria still baffles me week in, week out. Jonathan Soriano

A week to forget for:
FK Austria Vienna– Gerald Baumgartner had a terrible week of things, with his training disrupted by the amount of injuries and illness’ in the squad. At times he said he only had 12 senior players in training and you could really tell come gameday against Wolfsberger. The team’s performance was quickly questioned by pundits and fans, once again putting pressure on Baumgartner, with his side stuck in 6th place in the league on only 12 points.

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Round 10

Top 3 Players of Round 10:

Round 10 signalled a return of form for the league’s top two sides, as Wolfsberger AC and Red Bull Salzburg, overcame defeats in the last round with victories here. The real tale of the week however, was the mystery behind who would appointed as the new SK Sturm Graz manager. Under interim manager, Günther Neukirchner, the team only managed a draw to valiant SC Rheindorf Altach at home. The Sturm Board acted quickly, and within days Franco Foda, former Sturm: player, assistant coach and manager, had been re-appointed. This round was also significant for Oliver Glasner and his SV Ried side, as they won for only the second time this season, with loanee Denis Thomalla getting the only goal of the game. Here is the full round-up of the scores:

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

20131109_Joachim_Standfest_9684#1 Joachim Standfest – Standfest, a veteran at 34, scored the winning goal in his 421st Tipico Bundesliga game, coincidentally, the same number of league games, his manager Dietmar Kühbauer had racked up as a player. The tenacious right back was a threat throughout the game and as always, worked very hard for the team. It was Standfest’s pinpoint cross that picked out Peter Zulj to head home, completely unopposed in the third minute. The 34-year old’s goal sent the Lavanttal-Arena wild, with only injury time in the game left to go. A sweeping Roland Putsche pass found Standfest perfectly, who had completely evaded any defenders, but most importantly stayed onside. With his first touch, Standfest chested the ball and then met the ball with his left foot to smash it past Andreas Leitner in the Admira goal. It was a sucker punch of a goal and Kübhauer could be seen celebrating emphatically on the sideline. To show how hard Standfest works down the right-hand side, here is his heatmap over the 90 minutes (courtesy of You can see he spent as much time in the opponents half as he did his own!Standfest heatmap

#2 Valentino Lazaro – Lazaro, a regular Austrian international at the mere age of 18, was put out of his comfort zone against Rapid Vienna. The talented youngster, who is normally deployed as a winger, but occasionally operates in a central midfield role, was pushed to right-back given Salzburg’s extreme injury problems. Despite coming up against one of the best wingers in the league, Florian Kainz, Lazaro managed to keep the 21-year old out of the game and Kainz was even replaced later on in the game. It was an interesting move by Hütter, but given the success of his debut in the role and his subsequent success in the Europa League against FC Astra, in Romania, many are starting to compare Lazaro to the likes of David Alaba, who started out at Austria Vienna. It remains to be seen if Lazaro will continue to play in this position and if so, if he will continue to excel here. Regardless, he was key in helping the Bulls overcome their barren run, and to claim a vital 3 points over league rivals Rapid Vienna, and stay within 3 points of Wolfsberger at the top of the league.Lazaro

#3 Denis Thomalla – Thomalla, since arriving from Red Bull Leipzig on a season-long loan, has provided the Ried side with a reliable target up front. In his first three games, the German has scored two goals, with no oDenis Thomallather Ried player scoring in that time. In the defeat to Sturm, in Round 9, he also hit the post with the score at 0:0. The significance of his game-winning goal against Neustadt, is that it could well have kept Oliver Glasner’s job. Although reports had suggested, that Glasner had received the backing of his board no matter what the result against Neustadt had been, a loss would have left them 4 points adrift at the bottom of the league. His goals haven’t been his only contribution, with his work-rate a massive factor in how influential he is becoming for Ried, who haven’t really recovered from the loss of striker René Gartler, now of Sandhausen. Here is Thomalla’s heatmap from the Neustadt game, as you can see not only did he spend much of the time up front, but also came deep for the ball.

Thomalla heatmap

A week to forget for:

SC Wiener Neustadt – In what had been built as a 6-pointer against SV Ried, the side succumbed to a Denis Thomalla strike. They had plenty of chances to score with Herbert Rauter with arguably the best chance of the entire game. It has meant though, despite building momentum with wins against Admira and Wolfsberger this season, they now lie bottom of the league with 7 points.

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