Wolfsberger AC v TSV Hartberg
It’s a battle in the bottom-six in Carinthia on Saturday, as both teams look to push up into the top half.
WAC have recovered from a slow start to the season, and much of that recovery has come off the back of highly improved goal scoring rates. They’ve managed three or more goals in each of their last four games, but they’ve not kept a clean sheet across that period either. Tai Baribo is their top scorer with three goals, but Augsburg loanee Maurice Malone looked like he’d hit the ground running as he scored a brilliant brace against Rapid last weekend. With Vizinger, Jasic, Boakye, Röcher, Ballo and more all off the mark for the season, WAC suddenly carry a much bigger threat from open play, and have a great deal of momentum, perhaps aided by a lack of European action.
Hartberg have been their usual unpredictable selves during this campaign, and whilst the majority of their time this season has been spent booting the ball away from the defence, they know how to execute a counter attack with ruthless efficiency, and they’ll be eyeing success against the league’s leakiest defence (18 conceded). We expect WAC to leave some gaps as they push forward in search of the home win, allowing Hartberg a sniff of a chance. Yet, overall there are likely to be a few goals in this tie for WAC, and the recent high-scorers should be able to carry this game over 2.5 all by themselves even if they do keep a rare clean sheet.
LASK v WSG Tirol
Unbeaten LASK are up against something of a bogey team in WSG Tirol on Saturday.
The Bundesliga head-to-head has both teams tied on six victories, and many of those, especially from WSG’s side, have gone completely against the form book. The Tyroleans tend to give LASK a very tough game when they get their teeth stuck in, and top-scorer Tim Prica gives them a great chance to do the same this weekend, against a home team who have several key suspensions.
Filip Stojkovic, Branko Jovicic and six-goal hero Marin Ljubicic are all banned for this match, which weakens LASK significantly across the field. The good news for them is that Keito Nakamura, Rene Renner and Thomas Goiginger have all still been superb in terms of creating and converting chances with precise through balls and angled crosses on fast breaks. LASK will still feel they have enough quality to take the win, but WSG took some criticism for a lack of firepower when they drew a blank last time out, and this time as underdogs they’ll be set up to take more risks and get in on goal. With 29 goals in the last 8 meetings between the teams, we expect both teams to be on the board at full time.
FK Austria Vienna v SV Ried
Austria come into this home game following a mid-week drubbing in the Conference League, with Ried faring little better after picking up just two points from their last six games.
Only three teams have conceded more than Austria’s 14 goals this season, and they showed all of their defensive frailties and naivety as they fell away to lose 4-1 in Poznan on Thursday in a game which they could have perhaps won. With only one clean sheet to their name this season, it’s been a real struggle at the back for the Violets, and Marvin Martins, Lukas Mühl, Billy Koumetio and others have all failed to impress too often. Ried have struggled in front of goal of late, but against this Austria defence, all recovering from an away trip a few days before, it’s a brilliant chance for Ried to change their fortunes in front of goal.
Although Ried have won just once this season, they’ve been a thorn in Austria’s side in recent meetings, and have scored at least once in the last four games at the Generali Arena, having won the last two when they had home advantage (3-2 & 2-1). They seem to match up well against the Violets, and whilst Austria look far better going forward than they do at the back – Andreas Gruber is in his stride now, Dominik Fitz is on form and Matthias Braunöder’s technical play is developing at speed – we think Ried will be able to trouble a team who were shaken by Thursday’s collapse, and therefore that both teams will find the net this weekend.
Red Bull Salzburg v Rapid Vienna
Salzburg have taken over their usual place at the top of the Austrian table in recent weeks, and whilst Rapid remain in the top half, their trajectory has been rather different in the last month with several demoralising defeats, the resignation of the board, and a manager under big pressure.
The stats don’t do Rapid any favours in this match-up, and you have to go back to 2015 to find their last win in the Mozartstadt. Salzburg have won a hefty 14 of the last 15 meetings, drawing just once. Rapid seem to have a mental block for this fixture, whereas Salzburg regularly use the game against Austria’s former powerhouse to motivate their young charges and stamp their authority on the domestic game.
Salzburg’s transitional attacking football has clicked since mid-August, and they’ve now found that goals can come from anywhere. Defender Strahinja Pavlovic has settled into the new-look back-line well, and he’ll relish 90 minutes at home against a misfiring Rapid who have spurned far too many chances this season, and have only won against lowly Altach (1-0) in their last five league games. The creative effects of Marco Grüll and Berni Zimmermann haven’t been the same as at the end of last season for the Green & Whites, and it would take an upset of gigantic proportions for Rapid to get anything from Salzburg on Sunday.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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