Red Bull Salzburg v Austria Klagenfurt
The reigning Austrian Bundesliga champions enter the fifth match day of the season in second place after a relatively modest start to the season compared to previous campaigns. Following a summer of departures, the next generation of Red Bull Salzburg starlets have come to the forefront but are yet to truly set the league alight. Nevertheless they’re picking up regular points, and come in off the back of a 2-1 victory over Wolfsberger AC in their last fixture.
Austria Klagenfurt picked up their first win of the season against SV Ried last weekend and have a history of toppling Salzburg after beating them at the 28 Black Arena last season – in fact, Klagenfurt took more points off Salzburg than any other team in the Austrian Bundesliga in 2021/22. Despite ranking second in average possession and third in xG, Klagenfurt’s low goal tally disguises how many chances they create, and we can see them getting on the scoresheet on Saturday.
Salzburg’s main creative outputs this season have been 23-year-old Brazilian Fernando with two goals and two assists to his name, with Benjamin Sesko chipping in with two goals and an assist too at the start of his final season for the club, but there are a whole host of other talented young attackers ready to spring into action and lead the Salzburg line if the others aren’t scoring. Injury-wise, Salzburg will be without full-back Bernardo but have a full bill of health in the attacking department.
It’s hard to go against Red Bull Salzburg here. They are unbeaten in home matches in the Bundesliga since the beginning of 2021 and Austria Klagenfurt – although dangerous in short bursts – are yet to show that they’d be capable of an upset, despite previous good showings against the champions-elect. We expect to see a high-scoring encounter, and Salzburg coming out on top as their forwards start to move up a gear for this season. After all, nothing spurs on the Salzburg attack like conceding a few goals!
SCR Altach v Austria Lustenau
The first-ever clash between SCR Altach and Austria Lustenau in Austria’s top flight is definitely one to watch this weekend. The big Vorarlberg rivals haven’t met competitively since May 2014, but finally the “Ländle” has a Bundesliga derby to whet the appetite. The 8,500 capacity CASHPOINT Arena has been sold out for weeks in anticipation of a derby like no other in Austrian football.
Since their promotion in May, Austria Lustenau have been riding the crest of a wave, currently sitting in fourth position in the Austrian Bundesliga after demolishing TSV Hartberg 4-1 last weekend. Altach had a miraculous escape from relegation at the end of last season and have shown signs of promise under their superstar manager Miroslav Klose, including a dramatic 3-2 victory over Austria Vienna. However, derby days always bring that extra spice. Home side Altach appear to have shaken off their goal-shy form of last season with six goals in their first four matches, and this attack-minded Lustenau team have only drawn a blank once so far despite adjusting to life in the new division, so this could well be a back and forth battle in front of goal as the teams vie for local supremacy!
21-year-old Bryan Teixiera, one of the best players in Austria’s second-tier last season, has been one of the most creative players in the Bundesliga with a league-leading four assists to his name for Lustenau. For Altach, their main man is a player with plenty of experience, as former Sheffield Wednesday man Atdhe Nuhiu has four goals to his name already, and carries a unique aerial threat. Two very different players, but two players who shape the identity of their clubs. Derby matches are notoriously hard to predict in terms of a winner, so our prediction is that both clubs will score at the CASHPOINT Arena on Saturday.
Sturm Graz v LASK
The only unbeaten sides remaining in the Austrian Bundesliga meet in a Saturday night battle of the Black and Whites at the Merkur Arena.
Starting with the hosts, Sturm Graz have had a mixed start to their season with an impressive victory over Red Bull Salzburg and a 4-0 thrashing of Altach being contrasted with two underwhelming away displays at Wolfsberger AC and SV Ried. Despite those two away draws, they showed very well in the energy-sapping UEFA Champions League qualification round, and it’s an exciting time for Sturm overall with a bevy of promising teenage players taking the spotlight this season. 19-year-old striking duo Rasmus Hojlund and Emanuel Emegha have contributed five goals combined already.
League leaders LASK, who remain unbeaten in their first four Bundesliga games for a fourth season in a row, have been a big surprise with top scorer Marin Ljubicic (six goals), Thomas Goiginger and Keito Nakamura all producing more than a goal & assist per game this season. However, many of those goals came once games were done and dusted, and the trip to Graz will be the first real test of the campaign for Dietmar Kühbauer and his surprise package side. In the recent history between the clubs Sturm Graz are unbeaten in the last four matches, and when the Graz crowd get a taste of a big game like this one, the Merkur Arena can transform into one of Austria’s toughest away trips.
Two clubs with top-three aspirations, it could be a brilliant spectacle in Graz both on-and-off the pitch, but Sturm Graz are a different team at home in the league, with their two home performances being two of the very best in the Bundesliga this season, and they enjoyed a win over 90 minutes against Dynamo Kyiv at the Merkur Arena, too. We’re going for a Sturm victory and LASK to be knocked off the top of the Bundesliga this weekend.
Wolfsberger AC v Austria Vienna
A battle of the current Austrian Bundesliga top two at the Raiffeisen Arena. Despite being level on points, their route to this point has been stark in its contrast. Free-scoring LASK, managed by former Rapid player and manager Dietmar Kühbauer, have been a revelation so far with Croatian striker Marin Ljubicic scoring an incredible nine goals in four games in all competitions for the Linzers. On the other hand, Rapid have found goals hard to come by – only scoring three times in the league so far.
Despite this, Rapid were boosted on Thursday night by welcoming back Ferdy Druijf and Yusuf Demir into the squad as they dispatched Azeri side Neftchi Baku in the Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round with a dramatic extra time victory. The returning Druijf managed to score the all-important second goal in the 112th minute to set-up a clash with Liechtenstein Cup winners Vaduz for a place in the group stages.
The introduction of Demir added extra creativity to Rapid’s attack that had been missing in the league this season with new signing Guido Burgstaller shouldered with much of the responsibility. LASK’s creativity has mostly come via Ljubicic and Japanese winger Keito Nakamura who jointly-leads the league in assists. Interestingly, Rapid Vienna have enjoyed an unbeaten run of nine games (7 wins, 2 draws) against the Linz club. However, we feel that this fixture is too close to call and could go either way so the best value could be in LASK’s goalscoring prowess and Rapid’s returning stars contributing to a high-scoring contest.
Fresh off their mid-week exploits in the UEFA Europa Conference League and UEFA Europa League, Wolfsberger AC and Austria Vienna meet as the two bottom clubs in the Austrian Bundesliga.
Robin Dutt’s Wolfsberg side proved their European worth on Thursday with a stunning 1-0 first leg away victory against Norwegian league leaders Molde FK – but have flattered to deceive domestically this season and only have Austria Vienna’s points deduction to thank for not being bottom of the table. There were signs of improvement last weekend with a battling defeat at Red Bull Salzburg, but the Carinthians will be desperate to get points on the board and maintain the momentum from a few good European performances, including a pressure-relieving 4-0 away win earlier in August.
Austria Vienna, already assured of Europa Conference League group stage football, battled to a 2-0 defeat against Fenerbahce in a spicy atmosphere, and despite their defeat, acquitted themselves well against a more-established opponent. They picked up their first victory of the season over WSG Tirol during the last match day, and will be hoping to leapfrog their opponents in the standings on Sunday evening.
Austria’s Lucas Galvao is suspended after his straight red card against WSG Tirol and holding midfielder James Holland is also likely to miss out with a ligament injury, the more important players will be available up front for both teams though. Thorsten Röcher and Tai Baribo are starting to combine well at WAC, and Dario Vizinger carries a threat if he can be supplied with the right passes, whilst on the other side, Haris Tabakovic is beginning to look like the man who scored so many goals in the second division last season, and Dominik Fitz is looking sharp for Austria, too. Both teams also have new number one goalkeepers who are yet to find their feet properly in the Bundesliga, so there should be plenty of hope for the respective forwards on Sunday.
It’s too early to call this a “six pointer”, but both clubs will be in real need of the three points to kickstart their league campaigns, so we’re expecting plenty of attacking football, and at least a few goals at the Lavanttal Arena!
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