Round 36

Round Review: Round 36

Player of the Round:

Louis Schaub

Louis Schaub was back to his best for Rapid Wien against Wolfsberg as he helped set up a 5:0 away win for his side (picture courtesy of Sky Sport Austria)

Louis Schaub was back to his best for Rapid Wien against Wolfsberg as he helped set up a 5:0 away win for his side (picture courtesy of Sky Sport Austria)

After a metatarsal injury and Philipp Schobesberger in imperious form, Louis Schaub could have been forgiven for trying to put this season behind him. Instead, the attack-minded midfielder scored twice to help thump Wolfsberg 5:0 away from home.

Goal of the Round:

With Admira knowing that a victory would be good enough to keep them in the Bundesliga, Toni Vastic’s composed finished ended what had been a frustrating season for the striker, on a high note. The 22-year old came off the bench to squeeze the ball past Cican Stankovic when through on goal.

Picture of the Round:

Sturm fans celebrate their side qualifying for the Europa League ahead of the final game of the season (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Sturm fans celebrate their side qualifying for the Europa League ahead of the final game of the season (picture courtesy of Laola1.at)

Controversy of the Round:

The manager merry-go-round was in full swing early into the week as relegated Neustadt’s manager, Helgi Kolvidsson, was promptly poached by SV Ried, who had been deserted by Oliver Glasner the previous week. Kolvidsson had been linked with St. Pauli in Germany, but after a gutsy tenure ended in vain with the blue and whites, many had hoped he would continue in Austria. Meanwhile, despite standing by his manager throughout the season, Christian Haas finally pulled the plug on Michael Baur’s reign with Grödig after only one season, as the side slipped a disappointing to 8th place finish. Haas was quick to appoint a successor for his side, who have been left depleted after the departures of key players Cican Stankovic, Marvin Potzmann, Ione Cabrera, Stefan Nutz, Tomi Correa and Philipp Huspek. Former Rapid Wien player and manager Peter Schöttel, who had most recently been used by Sky Sport Austria as a Bundesliga expert, was handed a 2-year contract with the club, as he looks to take them back to the heady heights of European football that Adi Hütter had brought the side in his one and only season in the top flight with them.

Ex-Ried coach Oliver Glasner locks hands with his successor Helgi Kolviddson during Ried's trip to Neustadt earlier in the season (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/ Mario Kneis)

Ex-Ried coach Oliver Glasner locks hands with his successor Helgi Kolviddson during Ried’s trip to Neustadt earlier in the season (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/ Mario Kneis)

Full Results:

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

Final Word:

The 14/15 Austria Bundesliga finally came to a close with the top 5 sides qualifying for Europe after RB Salzburg were able to beat Austria Wien 2:0 in extra-time, in the Samsung Cup final in midweek. Salzburg and Rapid Wien qualified into the Champions League, while Altach, Sturm and Wolfsberg will all be representing Austria in the Europa League qualifiers. It was a fantastic season with twists and drama, and it was an absolute pleasure to follow.

The final Bundesliga 14/15 table

The final Bundesliga 14/15 table

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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Belek

Belek Diary (Final day).

After a wonderful week in Turkey, my time was up. The weather had been unpredictable, venues had been tough to find and kick off times often moved without much notice, but like any football lover, I’d do it all again.

5pm: SV Grödig vs.  Anzhi (RUS) – Venue: Kaya Pallazo Sports Complex

The Anzhi team sheet.

The Anzhi team sheet.

1st half: After a delayed kick-off due to poor weather conditions, Michael Baur’s team finally took on a very physical Anzhi side, who now dwell in the second tier of Russian football. The game started evenly, with perhaps Grödig the slightly more aggressive. After the transfer of Yordy Reyna to Red Bull Leipzig, Sunday Emmanuel started up front, with Stefan Nutz just behind him. It was Nutz’s quality that gave Grödig the lead just before the half hour mark. The 22-year old, who had been linked with a move to Germany in this transfer window, curled a perfect free-kick into the top corner, leaving the goalkeeper motionless. Moments later, Anzhi had the chance to reply from the spot after Florian Hart was adjudged to have handballed. However, with Cican Stankovic recovering from appendix surgery, stand-in goalkeeper Pirmin Strasser kept out the penalty fantastically with an outstretched foot. Half-time, 1:0.

The teams prepare to kick off

The teams prepare to kick off

2nd half: Despite the wind picking up and the temperature plummeting, things soon boiled over when substitute Timo Brauer was taken out by Anzhi’s Amatou Moutari, who received a straight red card for the challenge. From then on, it was very much one way traffic with Grödig wasting golden opportunities as the Russian’s defence struggled to cope with the pace of Philipp Huspek and Simon Handle on the wings. It was frustrating for Baur then as time ticked down, it was Anzhi who got a late equaliser, thanks to a great strike. Grödig had next to no time to reply and the score remained 1:1 at the final whistle.

Baur handles journalist question following the 1:1 result

Baur handles journalist’s question following the 1:1 result

Following the game, Baur spoke with journalists regarding the loss of Yordy Reyna, but also on the arrival of Brazilian attacking midfielder ‘Venuto’ from FC Liefering. I was also able to speak with members of Sky Sports Austria, who were incredibly insightful as they were able to shed light on a few interesting stories occurring in the Tipico Bundesliga. Not only this they were extremely friendly and spoke very good English!

Members of the Sky Sports Austria team & myself (centre)

Members of the Sky Sports Austria team & myself (centre)

I met some great people during this trip and achieved part of my goal by gaining insight into teams around the league, I hope you also enjoyed reading and following my time in Belek. Now only 12 days until the league is back!

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Round 16

Top 3 Players of Round 16:

Round 16 of the Tipico Bundesliga brought back fond memories for many, as it saw the return of Stefan Maierhofer who joined Wiener Neustadt during the week, following his most recent spell in England with Millwall FC. It was the same old story however for Rapid Vienna and Wolfsberger, as they both suffered their third straight losses, seeing them lose further ground on Salzburg at the top of the table. At the bottom of the league, Admira are beginning to look over their shoulder as Neustadt, who also announced Helgi Kolvidsson as their new manager, closed the gap between the sides to three points; while Ried extended the gap between 8th and 9th to four points. The big game on Sunday between Sturm and Salzburg did not disappoint, with the game being one of the most exciting 2:1 games you are ever likely to see, with Hütter’s men ultimately hanging on. Here are the full round-up of results:

SV Grödig 3-1 SK Rapid Vienna
FK Austria Vienna 4-0 FC Admira Wacker
SV Ried 2-1 SC Rheindorf Altach
SC Wiener Neustadt 2-0 Wolfsberger AC
SK Sturm Graz 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg.

#1 Philipp Huspek – Huspek, 23, now in his second season at Grödig, has been vital for the Salzburg-based side since his arrival, clocking up 11 goals and 13 assists in 57 appearances. Against a Rapid side struggling with defence injuries and a lack of form, Huspek and his Peruvian compatriot, Yordy Reyna, tore the Vienna side’s defence to shreds. The Austrian winger from Grieskirchen, gave Grödig a 2:1 lead moments before half-time, meeting a Stefan Nutz through-ball which he took around Jan Novota and managed to find the net despite a tight angle. The tie was killed off in the 73rd minute when Nutz once again found Huspek, who had timed his run perfectly to avoid the offside trap and he managed to finish past Novota with style and composure. Huspek now has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last four games and his form will be a massive factor if Grödig wish to replicate last year’s third placed finish.

Huspek

Picture courtesy of Laola1.at

 

#2  Stefan Nutz – Nutz, 22, achieved a feat not many footballers can say they have done in a competitive game. The deep-lying midfielder assisted all three of Grödig’s goals against Rapid Vienna. His first assist of the game was nothing more than fortunate as it was his miss-control that allowed the ball to travel through to Yordy Reyna who finished under the body of Jan Novota with a first-time hit. As mentioned above though, two of his assists were scored by Philipp Huspek, with the second of those assists literally timed and weighted to perfection.  Although Nutz does not stand out significantly from a statistical point of view, he has nearly been an ever-present for Grödig, missing only two games, with one of those due to suspension.

Nutz

Picture courtesy of Bundesliga.at

 

#3 Alexander Gorgon – With the scores level at 0:0 and the home crowd audibly disgruntled with Austria Vienna’s performance against Admira, it was actually Omer Damari who changed the game. It was the Israeli’s theatrics that although not in the spirit of the game, meant Admira captain Richard Windbichler received a straight red card for a tug on his shirt, denying him a clear goalscoring opportunity. Following the penalty it became the Gorgon show, with Daniel Royer also impressing off the bench. Royer scored an excellent goal from distance past Jörg Siebenhandl, but it was Gorgon who rubbed salt in Admira wounds with a further two goals, taking any respectability away from the scoreline. His first was a smart flicked header from a Florian Mader corner that caught out the Admira goalkeeper and flew into an empty net. His second goal was an indication of the true talent the 26 year old Austrian has. With defender Patrick Wessely directly blocking his route to goal, Gorgon expertly carved the ball around the Admira defender and into Siebenhandl’s bottom left hand corner. It leaves Gorgon’s stats looking very tidy with 3 goals and an assist in his last 3 starts for the Violets.

Gorgon

Picture courtesy of Christian Hofer

 

Notable mentions

Stefan Maierhofer – Maierhofer’s arrival in Neustadt came somewhat as a surprise as he looked to get back into the game following his release by Millwall FC from the Championship. His presence in training was praised by Günter Kreissl, who was acting as part of the interim coaching staff in Pfeifenberger’s absence. During his debut in the victory against Wolfsberger, his leadership was clear and he treated fans to a fantastic goal with a cheeky flick despite facing away from goal to open the scoring. Chances are he could only remain with the team until the Winter break, but it would be an even better coup if his services are secured in the league, at least until the end of the season.

Maierhofer

Picture courtesy of: GEPA pictures/ Martin Hoermandinger

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment and vote on the poll below.

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