SV Ried v SK Austria Klagenfurt
Eleventh-placed Ried take on high-flying Klagenfurt on Saturday, as the hosts look to climb away from the foot of the table.
Ried enjoyed a mini-revival to move off the bottom in October, but they’ve taken just one point from their last two games thanks to a 0-0 draw with a Lustenau side in freefall, and they remain last in the league in terms of goals scored, with a measly 10 (compared to the 24 of their guests). Keeper Samuel Sahin-Radlinger has been their biggest asset of late, but he’ll be called upon again to produce some magic this weekend if Ried are to get anything.
Austria Klagenfurt were a touch unlucky to lose last time out, but even in that game, two solid headers from Markus Pink took the striker into double-figures and to the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts with 10 goals (as many as the whole Ried squad!). The efficiency to find the net when not playing well didn’t bail them out in the end against WSG, but it has proven useful on several occasions this season, and could do so again versus Ried. Peter Pacult’s Klagenfurt team have won six-in-a-row away from home across league and cup competitions, and we think their good goal record, plus huge strength from set-pieces, will give them enough firepower to see off Ried in Saturday’s clash.
Wolfsberger AC v Red Bull Salzburg
Wolfsberg will aim to arrest their alarming slump on Saturday, as they take on a Salzburg side which is likely to include some fresh faces after defeat in the Champions League midweek.
WAC won three on the bounce, before losing each of their last four games to plummet down the table. However, on the positive side, they scored six goals across those four defeats, finding the net at least once on each occasion. Keeper Hendrik Bonmann is yet to keep a clean sheet in 14 appearances, but with Tai Baribo still in a rich vein of form up front, Adis Jasic putting in good performances down the flank, and crosses remaining a danger, they might just be able to pose a threat to a new-look Salzburg side.
After defeat at the San Siro on Wednesday evening, Matthias Jaissle may be forced to look to younger players such as Youba Diarra and Kamil Piatkowski who impressed in the last match against Hartberg. Defender Oumar Solet didn’t quite look match fit in midweek, but Bernardo should be ready to take his place, and up front the goals have been shared generously this season, so Salzburg should be able to cope with the absence of Nicolas Capaldo. Look for Junior Adamu and Noah Okafor to try to release their frustration from some missed half-chances against AC Milan, as the league’s leading scorers aim to get back to winning ways versus Wolfsberg. If they can’t do it, Benjamin Sesko will be ready to add to his tally of four goals for the season, for a team averaging 2.1 goals per game in the Bundesliga.
SCR Altach v Sturm Graz
Ninth-placed Altach take on a Sturm side who are almost keeping pace with league leaders Salzburg, trailing top spot by just two points going into match day 15.
After a run of three wins in four games and only a narrow loss to Salzburg, Altach put in a turgid performance against Austria Vienna last time out. Nonetheless, they almost snatched a result in the capital due to the quality of Forson Amankwah’s direct free kick. After previously looking goal shy, former forward Miroslav Klose has got his side finding the net again, and with Atdhe Nuhiu on seven for the season, Alexis Tibidi up to five, and Forson on four assists, they could prove to be a thorn in the side of Sturm, especially as they’re at home.
Picking themselves up after a heartbreaking European exit on Thursday won’t be an easy task, but with the quality of this Sturm Graz side, their experience and resilience should keep them in with a good chance of success. Having won seven of their last nine in the Bundesliga (and drawn the other two, including one against Salzburg), Christian Ilzer’s side have shown a match-winning ruthlessness that wasn’t so evident in previous years. With a mighty 16 goal-scorers in the squad this season, they’re well-built to cope with someone having an off-day up front. Although we think this might be a closer game than the table suggests, we’re expecting a few goals in Altach!
Rapid Vienna v LASK
Struggling Rapid are down in seventh ahead of their game against LASK on Sunday, having won just one of their last five games. LASK are recovering from a slump of their own, but they picked up a solid seven points from their last three matches, scoring nine times in the process.
Rapid hoped to have turned a corner with their 5-1 demolition of Hartberg last week, before the weekend’s error strewn 3-3 draw in Lustenau. They made hard work of it with two stoppage-time strikes, but the key for Zoran Barisic’s team is still turning plentiful chances into goals. When it clicks, Guido Burgstaller is usually in the right place, he’s up to nine goals for the season, and in Bernhard Zimmermann, Rapid have the league’s most effective substitute, with four goals from the bench. Whether Rapid have the quality to win is questionable, but their days of drawing a blank at home should be behind them, after scoring 12 in their last four fixtures.
LASK are up against a team missing familiar defensive faces Max Hofmann and Kevin Wimmer, and that’s an enticing prospect for a team averaging over two goals per game. The attacking duo of Marin Ljubicic and Keito Nakamura have been irresistible in so many games this season, but now Peter Michorl looks to be getting back into his assist-providing flow, and apparently Robert Zulj has emerged as a new threat from set plays as well. Didi Kühbauer will be desperate to beat his old team in their own backyard, but these fixtures tend to be close, and packed with key momentum swings; with 10 goals between the sides in their last three meetings, we feel that both teams will get on the scoreboard again in Sunday’s late game.
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