Round 35

Round Review: Round 35

Player of the Round:

Cican Stankovic

Cican Stankovic (goalkeeper) sprawls to save Deni Alar's penalty in vain (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/Christian Ort)

Cican Stankovic (goalkeeper) sprawls to save Deni Alar’s penalty in vain (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/Christian Ort)

Cican Stankovic is the best goalkeeper in Austria. The 22-year old has had a fantastic season and in doing so, earned himself a move to Red Bull Salzburg, where he is set to go straight in as their number one. Unsurprisingly, Stankovic was in scintillating form against Rapid Wien, in a game that neither side had much to play for other than pride. But despite two late penalties for the club from Vienna, Stankovic stole the show, making save after save- much to the annoyance of striker Philipp Prosenik and later 24 goal-Robert Berić. The goalkeeper is set to be honoured ahead of the game against FC Admira by Michael Konsel as the best goalkeeper in the league this season.

Goal of the Round:

Picture of the Round:

The Neustadt team surround Alexander Harkam after their side conceded a penalty away at Rapid Wien in what was a crucial game for the side in their fight for safety (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

The Neustadt team surround Alexander Harkam after their side conceded a penalty against Rapid Wien in a crucial game as they continued to fight for safety, Hofmann hit the bar from the spot as the game finished scoreless. (picture courtesy of laola1.at).

Controversy of the Round:

In a bizarre turn of events, Oliver Glasner, now former Ried head coach, agreed to become the new LASK head coach and sports director on a 4-year contract. Glasner as a player, racked up an incredible 516 appearances for Ried, therefore his decision to move to local rivals whom he played for 3 times before a serious knee injury, came as a shock for many. Ried manager Stefan Rieter, in an interview with Laola1 said that “not only was I surprised, I was shocked”. Glasner had been in talks with the club to extend his contract to 2016, but after a move such as this, bridges between Glasner and the club could well be completely burned.

Glasner seen on the sidelines for Ried as recently as this weekend against Austria Wien (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

Glasner seen on the sidelines for Ried as recently as this weekend against Austria Wien (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

Full Results:

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

Re-arranged game:
SV Grödig 0:2 SK Rapid Wien

Final Word:

Following Felix Magath’s U-turn as he decided not to become Austria Wien’s new manager, Franz Wohlfahrt wasted no time in finding their next candidate. Step forward Thorsten Fink. The 47-year old German, who has experience with the likes of Basel, Hamburg and APOEL, signed with the Violets on Wednesday to take charge of the club next season, on a 2-year deal. On his introduction to the press, Fink claimed “I am grateful for the opportunity to be the coach of this great club” and “I wanted no buyout clause, I want to work in the long-term”. The appointment has been met with positivity after a season in which Austria Wien can only finish as high as 6th in the league and will be trophy-less if they fail to beat RB Salzburg in the Austrian cup final on Wednesday.

Thorsten Fink's appointment received two-thumbs up from Austria fans (picture courtesy of imago/MIS)

Thorsten Fink’s appointment received two thumbs-up from Austria fans (picture courtesy of imago/MIS)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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Round 24

Round Review: Round 24

Player of the Round:

Raphael Holzhauser

Raphael Holzhauser during the Vienna Derby (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/M. Hoermandinger)

Raphael Holzhauser during the Vienna Derby (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/M. Hoermandinger)

Despite being left out of the starting XI, Raphael Holzhauser’s 27th minute introduction changed the 312th Vienna Derby. The 22-year old who had failed to show the talent that led to his signing from Stuttgart, other than a brief glimpse during his side’s 5:2 destruction of Altach, dominated Rapid Vienna. Although journalists and analysts argued that it was Barisic’s rigid tactics that failed to deal with the impact that Holzhauser had on the game, his composure and skill on the ball was there for everyone to see. However, it was the midfielder’s dead-ball skills that ultimately were Rapid Vienna’s downfall, as they conceded late goals in either half to Austria’s centre-back pairing of Lukas Rotpuller and Vance Šikov both following Holzhauser set-pieces. With Austria Vienna continuing to struggle under Gerald Baumgartner in sixth place, fans will be hoping that Holzhauser’s performance against their biggest rivals is merely a sign for things to come.

Goal of the Round:

After an injury to Tomi Correa, super-sub Sunday Emmanuel scored an excellent goal to draw Grödig level against Ried- however, he was to be disappointed as his side eventually lost 2:1 thanks to another excellent goal from Gernot Trauner.

Picture of the Round:

Jonathan Soriano (left) grimaces after missing a penalty during his side's loss at home to Rheindorf Altach, whilst  Jan Zwischenbrugger (front) fist pumps in delight (picture courtesy of APA pictures)

Jonathan Soriano (left) grimaces after missing a penalty during his side’s loss at home to Rheindorf Altach, whilst Lukas Jäger (front) fist pumps in delight (picture courtesy of APA pictures)

 

Story of the Round:

 

Following the well-documented pitch conditions at the Goldberg Stadion which saw the league revoke the use of the ground in the Tipico Bundesliga, the side spent 500,000 euro in order to completely revamp the ground. Within only a matter of weeks there was a huge transformation and the league Senate re-instated the use of the ground. Grödig, who had played their ‘home’ game against Wiener Neustadt at the Red Bull Arena, were questioned as to whether Salzburg had helped the side financially in order to for the works to be completed so quickly, something Christian Haas denied. Regardless of whether there was any truth to the rumours, Grödig remain in crisis as they await their first points of the Spring season, as they now lie only 3 points above Admira, who sit bottom of the table.

The Goldberg Stadion following the completion of the under-lawn heating system and new turf (picture courtesy of SV Grödig)

The Goldberg Stadion following the completion of the under-lawn heating system and new turf (picture courtesy of SV Grödig)

Full Results:

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

Rearranged game: SV Grödig 0:2 SK Sturm Graz

Final Word:

With only 12 games in  the league remaining (not accounting for re-arranged games), it is becoming crunch time for teams and their managers. In light of the Derby win, Gerald Baumgartner remains as Austria Vienna manager, but will continue to face pressure when his side don’t pick up wins Violet fans so dearly crave. Meanwhile, Michael Baur who appears helpless as his Grödig side free-fall, is also coming under increasing pressure but Christian Haas continues to remain loyal to his manager; although everyone has their limits. Elsewhere in the league, Oliver Glasner is repaying the faith that the Ried management had when they chose not to relieve him of his duties after a poor start to the season. His side after back-to-back wins are steadily building momentum for a late push for European football. Whilst the appointment of Helgi Kolvidsson at Neustadt after the departure of Heimo Pfeifenberger seems inspired as his side continue to pick up points in their battle for survival. With plenty of ‘six-pointers’ to come, there is sure to be plenty of drama including managers who fail to see out the rest of the season with their side.

Christian Haas (left) following the appointment of Michael Baur (right) as Grodig manager (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures).

Christian Haas (left) following the appointment of Michael Baur (right) as Grodig manager (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures).

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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Belek

Belek Diary (Day Four)

Friday 30th January.

Game day was finally upon SV Ried, as they played host to Cracovia Kraków on an overcast afternoon in Belek.

Pre-game there was a sense of expectation as Glasner’s men had been working hard on the training pitch, preparing for this tie. The former Red Bull Salzburg assistant put out a strong XI with a few surprises, such as Denis Streker on the right and Petar Filipovic playing on the left side of a back three.

Members of the starting XI warm up before the Cracovia clash.

Members of the starting XI warm up before the Cracovia clash.

1st half: The first half didn’t begin too well for the Austrian side with passes lacking conviction and concentration levels not yet at their peak. A Thomas Murg back-pass sold goalkeeper Lorenz Höbarth short, but the 23-year did very well and stole the ball back off the strikers toes. That early alarm seemed to wake Ried up and from there on in they seemed the more likely to score. However, with opportunities missed and Glasner visibly frustrated on the sidelines, the teams went into the break 0:0.

A frustrated Glasner looks on during the first half

A frustrated Oliver Glasner looks on during the first half

2nd half: With the obligatory substitutions taking place at half-time, it was 20-year old Jakob Kreuzer who caught the eye. The tenacious forward worked incredibly hard chasing down opponents and his effort brought the only goal of the game. Having caught out the Cracovia left-back in possession, the ball broke kindly to Julius Perstaller (who had replaced Denis Thomalla at half-time). The striker who hasn’t started a game since October 18th in a 4:2 loss to Salzburg, charged on goal and found the bottom corner. With Cracovia also losing a man to a second yellow card, the game wound down as Ried cantered to the 1:0 victory.

Players shake hands at full-time

Players shake hands at full-time

Following the game, I was able to have a very brief chat with Mr Glasner. To paraphrase, he said he was happy with how his defence had performed during the game, but they were unable to get anything going up front as there were too many long balls; the pitch playing a part in this.

The teams prepare to shake hands prior to Ried's 1:0 win

The teams prepare to shake hands prior to Ried’s 1:0 win

More to follow…Only 1 day left!

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