Season Preview

My Austrian Bundesliga 15/16 transfer review and predicted league table:

With the new season only days away, I decided to take a look at what each side has been up to this off-season and list who I think has been their best signing. I’ve picked players based upon who I think could have the biggest ‘positive’ impact on the side, although I realise this won’t always be the ‘best’ new player who has been brought in!

FC Admira Wacker

Dominik Starkl

Dominik Starkl (left) alongside Admira manager Oliver Lederer (photo courtesy of admirawacker.at)

Dominik Starkl (left) alongside Admira manager Oliver Lederer (picture courtesy of admirawacker.at)

Starkl joined Admira on a season-long loan with an option to buy from Rapid Wien. The 21-year old, who is known for his wing-play and dribbling abilities, can also play in attack, but this tends to be as a deep-lying forward or as a false-9. Starkl struggled to adapt from the Rapid II’s to the Rapid senior squad – he scored 27 goals and assisted 8 times in his 66 appearances for the II’s, but this has translated to a measly 3 goals and 7 assists for Rapid Wien in 47 appearances. However, it is clear he has talent in abundance, with 18 goals in 19 appearances for Sankt Pölten’s U-18 side, before he was snapped up by the Wien club. For Austria he has played for the U-18s, U-19’s and has 5 caps for the U-21’s and a strong year in Admira could put him back in the international frame. For a team that only scored 32 times last season though, big things are expected of Starkl in 15/16.

FK Austria Wien

Ognjen Vukojević

Ognjen Vukojević appearing on Viola TV after recently joining the club (picture courtesy of fk-austria.at/youtube)

Ognjen Vukojević appearing on Viola TV after recently joining the club (picture courtesy of fk-austria.at/youtube)

31-year old Ognjen Vukojević joined Austria Wien on a 2-year deal with an option of a further year from Dynamo Kiev. The defensive midfielder had been on loan at Dinamo Zagreb for the 14/15 season, a team he had signed for in 2006 from Belgian side Lierse SK. An international veteran with 54 caps (4 goals) for the Croatian team, Vukojević will more than fill the gap of the outgoing Australian midfielder, James Holland. Austria Wien were once again disappointing in the league, finishing 7th with a goal difference of -6, so it is hoped that Vukojević, with his experience, will be able to shore up the Violets in midfield. In the 14/15 season, he struggled to cement a starting place at Zagreb, but he did captain the side on occasions. Alongside other arrivals such as Richard Windbichler, this is exactly what this under-performing club needed.

SV Grödig

Christian Derflinger

Christian Derflinger posing beside Grödig manager Christian Haas (photo courtesy of sv-groedig.at)

Christian Derflinger (left) poses beside Grödig manager Christian Haas (picture courtesy of sv-groedig.at)

Derflinger joined a depleted Grödig side on a free from Hamburg II’s. The 21-year old Austrian who started his career with LASK/Pasching was snapped up by FC Bayern in 2008 but never made it out of their youth sides. In the 14/15 season, following a move to Hamburg, Derflinger made 27 Regionalliga Nord appearances scoring twice and assisting 3 times. Despite not representing any Austrian international sides since 2012, 2015 marked a breakthrough year for the attacking midfielder on the international stage, as he made 2 appearances for the Austrian U21’s, scoring and assisting on debut against Bulgaria. 15/16 should bring Derflinger plenty of opportunities and during pre-season he has already established himself as a key player for Peter Schöttel’s side. With Venuto on the left and Derflinger on the right, his arrival will not only revive the career of veteran striker Roman Wallner, but it could go some-way in filling the massive hole left by the likes of Philipp Huspek and Stefan Nutz.

SV Mattersburg

Mario Grgic

Grgic in action during his time with SV Kapfenberg (photo courtesy of laola1.at)

Grgic in action during his time with SV Kapfenberg (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

Mario Grgic, now 23-years old, joined Mattersburg on a free from SV Kapfenberg, whom he played for over 100 times, scoring 11 times and assisting 21 times from central midfield. Despite never earning a cap for Austria at any level, he established himself as a key player at the club, particularly in his final season with the Hawks, scoring 4 and assisting 9 times, helping them finish in very respectable fourth place behind only Liefering, LASK and his new club. Grgic may struggle to establish himself in the starting XI under Ivica Vastic this season, given how strong the side appear to be in the centre, with Prietl and Sprangler already vying to start alongside the omnipresent Jano. But Grgic is improving year and year and will be hoping to help Mattersburg replicate the third placed finish achieved by newly promoted Altach last season.

SK Rapid Wien

Stefan Nutz

Nutz (left) alongside other Rapid Wien signings (picture courtesy of APA/HERBERT P. OCZERET)

Nutz (left) alongside other new Rapid Wien signings (picture courtesy of APA/Herbert P. Oczeret)

Rapid fought off plenty of foreign competition in order to secure the signature of 23-year old Stefan Nutz from SV Grödig. Following the departure of top-scorer Yordy Reyna to RB Leipzig, it was Nutz who took the reigns, steering his side to eventual safety, after a 6-game losing streak in early spring. The central midfielder, who joined Grödig from Grazer AK in 2012, scored 6 goals and assisted an impressive 12 times in his 33 Bundesliga appearances in 14/15. In particular, Nutz is a midfielder who is just as dangerous from open play as he is from a set-pieces, with his free-kick ability arguably only second in the league to Jonathan Soriano’s, although Steffen Hofmann may not agree! With the ageing Hofmann unable to play as regularly as he used to, Grahovac, Schwab and Schaub are all fighting to get as much game time as possible in midfield, ensuring Nutz will have to continue impress in order to stand-out to coach Zoran Barisic.

SC Rheindorf Altach

Dominik Hofbauer

Hofbauer in action against his new side last season (photo courtesy of GEPA pictures)

Hofbauer in action against his new side for Wiener Neustadt last season (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures)

Hofbauer has proven himself to be a very good Bundesliga player after joining Neustadt last season from Sankt Pölten. Despite being relegated with Neustadt, his performances earned him a 2-year contract with Altach, who are set to battle Vitoria (Portugal) in the Europa League next week. Hofbauer is a live wire in midfield and has shown his versatility, contributing with both goals and assists from various positions. The former Aston Villa U-21 player will be expected to soften the blow for Altach after the loss of Ismael Tajouri (4 goals and 6 assists) to Austria Wien at the end of last season. If all goes well, Hofbauer will be hoping to guide Altach to back-to-back European qualification campaigns.

SV Ried

Fabian Schubert

Schubert in action as a trialist for Ried (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

Schubert in action as a trialist for Ried (picture courtesy of laola1.at)

Fabian Schubert joined Ried on trial this summer from BST Völkermarkt before signing a 1-year contract with an option of a further two years. The 20-year old striker showed lethal form throughout the 14/15 season scoring 25 goals in 27 games in the Kärtner Liga, giving him a final record with the club of 56 goals in 102 appearances. Since his arrival at Ried, he has contributed with goals, albeit generally against lower opposition and at the weekend scored once and assisted twice in Ried’s 15:0 win in the Samsung Cup 1st round. Although Schubert is unlikely to be a starter under Kolvidsson, he has very little to lose and everyone will be hoping he can prove himself at the top-level in Austria.

Red Bull Salzburg

Reinhold Yabo

Yabo speaks to journalists at a Salzburg press (picture courtesy of skysportaustria.at)

Yabo speaks to journalists at a Salzburg press conference (picture courtesy of skysportaustria.at)

Yabo joined Salzburg on a 3-year deal from Karlsruher despite heavy speculation he would make his way to a German Bundesliga side. The central midfielder has proved to be a mainstay for Karlsruher over the past two seasons, contributing 7 goals and 5 assists in this time and despite only turning 23 in February, he is expected to bring some much-needed experience to a young Red Bull side. Yabo has shone throughout his career earning over 50 caps for Germany up into U-20 level and he now has the opportunity to help Salzburg to a potential third title win in a row. More importantly, new coach Peter Zeidler will be hoping Yabo can push Salzburg into the all-important Champions League group stages. Despite his potential, a re-occurring knee injury has disrupted his pre-season with the side, however, injuries aside he should become a key cog in the Red Bull machine.

SK Sturm Graz

Michael Esser

Esser (centre right) with other Sturm new signings (picture courtesy of GEPA)

Esser (centre right) with other new Sturm signings (picture courtesy of GEPA)

Michael Esser’s arrival at Sturm Graz, was one of the biggest coups of the off-season. During his time at VfL Bochum, Esser had established himself as a top keeper at 2.Bundesliga level, pushing Andreas Luthe all the way for a starting spot. Despite Christian Gratzei providing some solid performances in spring, the 33-year old was not the long-term solution with the Blackies aim to be pushing for Europa League qualification every season. With Benedikt Pliquett also leaving the club, the only other goalkeeping alternative was 18-year old Tobias Schützenauer. Thus, the arrival of Esser has been greeted gleefully by the club, whom he signed for on the basis he would be the number one goalkeeper. I expect he will be a success and he should contribute heavily as Sturm push for a top-2 finish in 15/16.

Wolfsberger AC

Philipp Hellquist

Philipp Hellquist trains with his new side during their pre-season (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/Daniel Goetzhaber)

Philipp Hellquist trains with his new side during their pre-season (picture courtesy of GEPA pictures/Daniel Goetzhaber)

Similarly to Dominik Hofbauer, Philipp Hellquist joined Wiener Neustadt in the spring last season and despite getting relegated, did enough to impress other clubs in the league. Wolfsberger AC signed Hellquist on a 2-year deal after the former Sweden U-21 striker scored 4 times in 12 games, in what was a struggling Neustadt side. During his time in Austria, Hellquist has shown his predatory skills, including his eye for goal from set-pieces and his ability to finish with finesse, something he has already shown Wolfsberger fans after a fantastic finish against Schalke in a recent friendly. With the Wolves scoring the third fewest goals in the league last season, behind only Admira and Neustadt, Dietmar Kühbauer will be hoping that Hellquist will contribute not only in the league but also in their quest to qualify for the Europa League group stages (although this maybe asking a lot as they will face Dortmund in the next round if they beat Shakhtyor Soligorsk!).

My 15/16 prediction:

1. Red Bull Salzburg (Top scorer: Jonathan Soriano)

2. SK Rapid Wien (Top scorer: Robert Berić)

3. FK Austria Wien (Top scorer: Alexander Gorgon)

4. SK Sturm Graz (Top scorer: Donis Avdijaj)

5. Wolfsberger AC (Top scorer: Philipp Hellquist)

6. SC Rheindorf Altach (Top scorer: Martin Harrer)

7. SV Mattersburg (Top scorer: Markus Pink )

8. SV Ried (Top scorer: Clemens Walch )

9. SV Grödig (Top scorer: Benjamin Sulimani)

10. FC Admira Wacker (Top scorer: Dominik Starkl)

GEPA pictures/ Christian Walgram

GEPA pictures/ Christian Walgram

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment as always.

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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 18

Top 3 Players of Round 18:

The Tipico Bundesliga continued to excite as it reached its halfway stage, with only one more game round before the Winter break. The early game saw Austria Vienna lose having been two goals up for the first time since 18th July 2001 (GAK 2:3), as the Bulls of Salzburg stormed back with four second half goals in Vienna. A meagre crowd of 862 saw Grödig dismantle a struggling Admira side, who have now gone a staggering 10 league games without a win (13th September, Sturm Graz, 2:0). Both Sturm and Neustadt enjoyed victories that kept up their recent good form. Sturm have been much improved under Franco Foda and lie only 2 points off the second Champions League place. The signing of Stefan Maierhofer has coincided with two wins from Neustadt’s last three games and if they better Admira’s result in round 19, they can avoid going into the break at the bottom of the table. Dietmar Kuhbauer’s Wolfsberger were able to finally score in front of their home fans through a René Seebacher goal against Rapid. The Wolves had gone 324 minutes without scoring a goal at home, but the 26-year old’s strike did not end the winless run, which has now extended to seven games (4th October, Austria Vienna, 2:0). Here are the full round-up of results:

FK Austria Vienna 2-4 Red Bull Salzburg
SV Grödig 5-0 FC Admira Wacker
SK Sturm Graz 3-1 SV Ried
SC Wiener Neustadt 2-0 SC Rheindorf Altach
Wolfsberger AC 1-1 SK Rapid Vienna.

#1 Stefan Nutz – Nutz, 22, continued his rich vein of form for Grödig with two goals of high quality against Admira. The young Austrian has subsequently been linked with a move away from the club with FC Kaiserslautern a heavily touted destination. With the game all but over at 3-0, Nutz stepped up to curl a beautiful freekick from the edge of the box past a helpless Jörg Siebenhandl. The win, which was the biggest home win for Grödig since a 7-1 demolition of Admira on the 3rd August 2013, was rounded off by Nutz who grabbed an excellent second goal. Thomas Goiginger did well down the left-hand side and his cross was met emphatically by a diving Nutz who directed the ball into the bottom corner with his head. It was a good day all round with Yordy Reyna (x2) and Daniel Schütz also getting in on the goalscoring action.

Picture courtesy of GEPA via meinbezirk.at

Picture courtesy of GEPA via meinbezirk.at

#2 Alan Carvalho – Alan’s record this season speaks for itself with the Brazilian-born striker having scored 22 goals in 24 appearances this season. Staggeringly, Alan has only scored in 10 of these games and his hattrick against Austria Vienna marked his second of the season, with his first coming against Dinamo Zagreb in a 4-2 Europa League win. The comeback for Red Bull began in the 52nd minute with a delicious Andreas Ulmer ball being gratefully met by Alan who eluded the poor marking of Lukas Rotpuller. Less than five minutes later the scores were level. Kevin Kampl, who had worked hard all game in both defence and attack was able to prod the ball through to Alan, who with his left foot, managed to squeeze the ball in off the post. The comeback and Alan’s hattrick was complete within 8 minutes of his first goal. A defence splitting pass by Kampl found Massimo Bruno on the right-hand side who was then able to slide in Alan to finish past a shell-shocked Heinz Lindner. Once again it was Salzburg’s attack that bailed out their defence and with 19-goal Jonathan Soriano out with illness, Alan certainly stepped up to the plate.

Picture courtesy of GEPA via sport.orf.at

Picture courtesy of GEPA via sport.orf.at

#3 Alexander Kofler – Kofler, 28, has had a break-out season for Wolfsberger this year, with the Austrian on the periphery of making Marcel Koller’s national side. The keeper from Klagenfurt has managed five clean sheets in the league this season, but his performance against Rapid Vienna in the 1-1 draw was arguably his best of the season. With the scores tied at 1-1 and the game deep into added time, Kofler pulled off a vital save to deny Florian Kainz who had been played in by Louis Schaub. The save, one of six he made all game, ultimately earned his side a point that gave his side a great chance of remaining second in the table over the Winter break (2 points above Sturm).

Photo courtesy of GEPA via vorarlbergernachrichten.at

Photo courtesy of GEPA via vorarlbergernachrichten.at

Notable mentions

Yordy Reyna – 2 goals (SV Grödig)
Marco Djuricin –
1 goal (SK Sturm Graz)
Kristijan Dobras –
1 goal 1 assist/penalty won (SC Wiener Neustadt)

 

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

 

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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

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