Round 29

Round Review: Round 29

Player of the Round:

Jonathan Soriano

Jonathan Soriano celebrates after scoring in the 6:0 victory over Wiener Neustadt (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Jonathan Soriano celebrates after scoring in the 6:0 victory over Wiener Neustadt (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Soriano was at it once again in the Bull’s game against Wiener Neustadt. The Spaniard who now has 26 goals and 13 assists in 26 league games helped his side to a 6:0 victory, scoring twice and assisting twice in the process.

The goals helped Salzburg retain their 6-point lead at the top of the table with only 7 games to play. Incredibly, his 117 goals since the 2012/13 season see him lie third behind only Ronaldo (156) and Lionel Messi (147), with Ibrahimovic (104) trailing in fourth. He is also the first Bundesliga player to score more than 25 goals in three consecutive seasons. Boom.

Goal of the Round:

Picture of the Round:

Clemens Walch nurses a cut to his face during the game against Rapid Wien (picture courtesy of APA pictures)

Clemens Walch nurses a cut to his face during the game against Rapid Wien (picture courtesy of APA pictures)

Story of the Round:

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi currently on loan at Altach from Austria Vienna, was subject to a confusing transfer story that developed more as the week went on. Franz Wohlfahrt, Austria Vienna’s sports director, announced that both Alexander Gorgon and Tajouri’s contracts would be extended at the club, prompting many to believe that Tajouri would be simply returning to his parent club once the season was over. However, this was not the case. It had emerged that Altach had decided to meet the purchase fee within Tajouri’s loan deal in an effort to secure the Swiss born Libyan winger’s services for next season. The official Altach site then reported that although they had met the Violet’s fee for the player, within that deal there had been a buy-back clause which Austria Vienna promptly used themselves to bring Tajouri back to the club. It was a confusing set of affairs, but the 4 goal, 4 assist man will be in the famous violet shirt in 15/16 after all.

Ismael Tajouri-Shardi in action for Altach (picture courtesy of GEPA)

Ismael Tajouri-Shardi in action for Altach (picture courtesy of GEPA)

Full Results:

SV Ried 0:1 SK Rapid Wien
FC Admira Wacker 2:2 SC Rheindorf Altach
RB Salzburg 6:0 SC Wiener Neustadt
SK Sturm Graz 2:1 SV Grödig
FK Austria Wien 1:1 Wolfsberger AC

Final Word:

After a disappointing campaign last season, it was brilliant news when Sturm Graz announced that their home game against close league rivals Rapid Wien (3rd May) was already a sell-out. With only 2 points currently separating the sides in 2nd and 3rd, the final Champions League place is set to come down to the wire. It is the first time there has been a sell-out at the UPC Arena since 24th August 2011 in a Champions League playoff against BATE Borisov and the first time since 25th May 2011 there has been a sell-out in the league when they faced Wacker Innsbruck, as they celebrated winning the title. Once again, manager Franco Foda continues to turn back the clock.

The UPC Arena on the 25th August, last time the UPC was sold out (picture courtesy of sturmtifo.com)

The UPC Arena on the 25th August, the last time the UPC was sold out (picture courtesy of sturmtifo.com)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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Round 28

Round Review: Round 28

Player of the Round:

Donis Avdijaj 

Donis Avdijaj has been in great form in recent games with 3 goals  and 2 assists in his last 3 games (picture courtesy of GEPA/Hans Oberlaender)

Donis Avdijaj has been in great form in recent games with 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games (picture courtesy of GEPA/Hans Oberlaender).

Avdijaj (18) was irresistible against Altach in the pouring rain. The attacker, who benefited from Marko Stankovic’s injury as it meant he could play more centrally, tore the visitor’s defence apart at will, scoring a brilliant solo effort and also assisting twice. It had been a tough settling in period for the maverick who only assisted once and didn’t score in his first 6 games for the club- however, it has become clear Foda and the entire Sturm set-up would love for the young German to stay for another season (as previously agreed in his 18 month loan deal).

Goal of the Round:

Picture of the Round:

Referee Rene Eisner brandishes a straight red card to Andreas Ulmer with Salzburg up 3:0. The match went on to finish 3:3 with the Bulls unable to hang on with 10 men (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Referee Rene Eisner brandishes a straight red card to Andreas Ulmer with Salzburg up 3:0. The match went on to finish 3:3 with the Bulls unable to hang on with 10 men (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Stories of the Round:

With Summer approaching, Austrian clubs have begun securing signatures ahead of next season. This week SV Ried completed the transfer of 23-year old Spanish striker, Manuel Gavilan from Zamora CF from the third tier of Spain. Meanwhile, SK Sturm Graz pulled off a bit of a coup as 27-year old goalkeeper, Michael Esser signed from VFL Bochum in the 2.Bundesliga. Esser had been in great form this year keeping previous ‘number one’ Andreas Luthe (28) out of the side. Further news coming out of Germany in regards to goalkeepers, is that Austrian national team goalkeeper Robert Almer is expected to sign with Austria Wien imminently. The 31-year old has spent much of his time at Hannover 96 behind Ron-Robert Zieler (26) and will be a welcomed addition to the Violets.
With additions come departures, and for the next few weeks, those players whose contracts run out at the end of the season, tough decisions will have to be made. Two veterans in their own rights, have already signalled their departures. Benedikt Pliquett (30) had failed to hold down a starting spot in the Sturm net and with Michael Esser arriving his time at the club was clearly coming to an end. Heinz Lindner (24) on the other hand, decided it was time for new challenges outside of Austria. He has played 196 games for the Violets having come through the Austria Wien youth set-up.
With 8 games of the league still remaining there will continue to be lots of new faces, but also plenty of goodbyes well before the transfer window officially opens in July.

Manuel Gavilan poses at Ried's No Worries Arena ahead of his transfer move in Summer (picture courtesy of Scharinger)

Manuel Gavilan poses at Ried’s No Worries Arena ahead of his transfer move in Summer (picture courtesy of Scharinger)

Full results:

SK Sturm Graz 5:0 SC Rheindorf Altach
SV Grödig 1:1 FK Austria Wien
SC Wiener Neustadt 0:1 SV Ried
Wolfsberger AC 2:0 FC Admira Wacker
SK Rapid Wien 3:3 RB Salzburg.

Final Word:

Unfortunately for some players, Round 28 appears to be their final game week of the season. In tough weather conditions, Sturm’s Marko Stankovic went down in a heavy challenge and faces a long lay-off following cruciate ligament damage. Admira’s injury troubles have not been made any easier as Winter signing Toni Vastic could be out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage. In brighter injury news however, Rapid Wien’s Andreas Kuen (19) has returned to team training after only 6 weeks following a serious ligament injury  with Rapid manager Barisic claiming: “I can only congratulate our medical department.” How touching.

Sturm's Marko Stankovic is stretchered off after picking up a serious injury at home to Altach (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Sturm’s Marko Stankovic is stretchered off after picking up a serious injury at home to Altach (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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Round 27

Round Review: Round 27

Player of the Round:

Stefan Nutz

Stefan Nutz slots home Grödig's equaliser from the penalty spot on their way to a 3:2 victory (picture courtesy of SV Grödig)

Stefan Nutz slots home Grödig’s equaliser from the penalty spot, on their way to a 3:2 victory (picture courtesy of SV Grödig).

Stefan Nutz (23) has continued to be an integral player for Grödig despite their disappointing season thus far. The Salzburg-based outfit are currently limping towards a lowly 8th placed finish under manager Michael Baur who was brought in as Adi Hutter’s replacement. It was the departure of Yordy Reyna in the Winter to RB Leipzig, in the German 2nd tier that has increased Nutz importance to this side, aswell as injuries to other stars such as Philipp Huspek and Tomi Correa- who incidentally have also signed pre-contracts alongside Nutz with Rapid Vienna in Summer. The dynamic midfielder shone in Round 27 as his Grödig side battled back from 2:0 down with 10 men to beat bottom-placed Admira 3:2, in what had been labelled as a ‘6-pointer’. Nutz sparked the comeback with a perfect corner which was met by defender Max Karner, he then held his composure to send stand-in goalkeeper Simon Manzoni the wrong way from the spot. With fate on Grödig’s side, they won the game thanks to a second half goal by Danish wide-man Florian Hart, who lobbed over Manzoni who was caught in no-man’s-land.

Goal of the Round:

Picture of the Round:

A dejected Kühbauer is sent to the stands following a clash with referee with Alexander Harkam as his Wolfsberger trailed 2:0 to Rapid Wien early on (picture courtesy of GEPA/ Christian Ort)

A dejected Kühbauer is sent to the stands following a clash with referee with Alexander Harkam, as his Wolfsberger trailed 2:0 to Rapid Wien early on (picture courtesy of GEPA/ Christian Ort).

Controversy of the Round:

Despite being ostracised by his domestic club Admira Wacker, Andreas Leitner earned himself another Austria U-21 call-up during the international break. However, in an interview conducted by Laola1.at’s Matthias Nemetz, Leitner’s silence was finally broken. There hadn’t been much word on Leitner’s future at the club since his agent, Alexander Sperr spoke out to Kleinen Zeitung, back in late November last year. Sperr had claimed that his client had been bullied after not agreeing to a contract extension. With Nemetz, Leitner disclosed that despite consciously making an effort in training to push for a starting place, challenging both Manuel Kuttin and Jorg Siebenhandl- who incidentally had both been injured in recent times – he had been forced to play with the Amateurs. This snub by Admira sparked an embarrassingly public undermining of Admira management, coaching staff and even fellow players. Leitner claimed that he felt blackmailed with terms being “either I renew or I do not play anymore”, with Siebenhandl’s contract extension until 2017 adding more fuel to the fire. The 21-year old made light of the fact that Admira had been well-known as a club who bring through youth, but he felt betrayed that they wouldn’t help him progress to the next development stage without full commitment and has instead set his sights on leaving the club in Summer. His final destination is unknown but although there has been muted interest from Sturm Graz and Austria Vienna, and he even went on trial in Norway during the Winter.  These contentious interviews however, will do nothing but worry prospective Sporting Directors.

Andreas Leitner (picture courtesy of Admira Wacker)

Andreas Leitner (picture courtesy of Admira Wacker)

Full results:

RB Salzburg 3:1 FK Austria Wien
SK Rapid Wien 4:1 Wolfsberger AC
FC Admira Wacker 2:3 Grödig
SV Ried 1:2 SK Sturm
SC Rheindorf Altach P:P SC Wiener Neustadt (due to flooded pitch).

Final Word:

In my ‘final word’ in Round 25 post, I predicted that some managers would likely fail to see out the rest of the season and for Admira’s Walter Knaller this was the case. After his side took an early 2:0 lead in their vital game against 10 man Grödig, his side wilted with Michael Baur’s side securing an unlikely victory deep into the second half. The result was too much for 57-year old Knaller to take and he handed in his resignation. It is an unsettling time for Admira who lie bottom of the Bundesliga with Oliver Lederer once again taking temporary sole charge of the club. However, they remain only 1 point behind Wiener Neustadt with 9 games to play, so there is still a lot to play for.

Former Admira manager Walter Knaller (left) commiserates Stephan Auer (pciture courtesy of APA/Hans Punz)

Former Admira manager Walter Knaller (left) commiserates Stephan Auer (pciture courtesy of APA/Hans Punz)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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Round 26

Round Review: Round 26

Player of the Round:

Alexander Kofler

Alexander Kofler in imperious form once again for Wolfsberger (picture courtesy of APA/Daniel Krug)

Alexander Kofler in imperious form once again for Wolfsberger (picture courtesy of APA/Daniel Krug)

The 14/15 season continues to be a stand-out a year for the Klagenfurt native as he stakes his claim for being one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Against the league leaders, Kofler time and again denied the Red Bull attack, ultimately playing a huge part in their 3:2 victory. Two moments of magic came against a frustrated Marcel Sabitzer, as he twice denied the Austrian international striker when one-on-one. The form which has seen previous number one Christian Dobnik limited to friendly and cup appearances, continues to surprise many and he was rewarded with a contract extension until 2017, with the Wolves looking to hang onto what can now be described as a prized asset. Disappointingly however, Kofler was overlooked for Marcel Koller’s Austrian national squad for the recent European qualifier, but the 28-year old will continue to push for a place with these type of performances.

Goal of the Round:

With time ticking down at the Lavanttal Arena, it looked as if Wolfsberger had held on for a famous point, following a late barrage from the league leaders. However, with the game in added time, super-sub Manuel Kerhe hounded make-shift central defender Stefan Ilsanker, forcing an error of epic proportions as Péter Gulácsi rushed out of his area. What ensued was fatal for Salzburg as Kerhe were able to pass the ball into an empty net and the Wolves took all 3 points. The celebrations that followed were also something to behold!

Picture of the Round:

The Sturm team pose for a photo after their 3:1 victory over Admira Wacker (picture courtesy of APA/Erwin Scheriau)

The Sturm team pose for a photo after their 3:1 victory over Admira Wacker (picture courtesy of APA/Erwin Scheriau)

Story of the Round:

Gerald Baumgartner’s ill-fated reign as Austria Vienna’s head trainer finally came to an end after their 1:0 defeat at home to SV Ried, seeing his side go into the international break in a lowly 7th place. Despite week’s of speculation surrounding his job security, in which time the Violets somehow defeated city rivals Rapid Vienna 2:1, Sport Director Franz Wohlfahrt finally lost patience after another disappointing result. The board however, were quick to find a replacement with Andreas Ogris stepping up from the Amateurs to take temporary charge. Ogris (50), spent much of his playing time at Austria Vienna and also won 63 caps for the national team, so fans were quick to get behind him. It is not clear how much impact Ogris can have with only 10 games left in the league, but what we do know is that it will be a tough task, with Austria Vienna 8 points off Sturm Graz in the final European spot.

New coach Andreas Ogris (centre) (picture courtesy of Austria Wien)

New coach Andreas Ogris (centre) alongside Rene Glatzer (left) and Robert Sara (right) (picture courtesy of Austria Wien)

Full Results:

Austria Wien 0:1 SV Ried
Grödig 0:1 SC Rheindorf Altach
SK Sturm Graz 3:1 FC Admira Wacker
Wolfsberger AC 3:2 RB Salzburg
SC Wiener Neustadt 0:1 SK Rapid Wien.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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