Austria Klagenfurt v LASK Linz
Fourth play third as LASK travel to Klagenfurt looking to put a recent rough patch behind them, and the hosts aim to build on four wins from their last five games.
Austria Klagenfurt have been the entertainers of the Austrian Bundesliga this season, having scored 20 and conceded 20 in what has been an impressive start to the campaign. They’ve shown grit with three wins on the bounce, and they’ve now added some home form to go with their thrilling away performances.
7-goal striker Markus Pink is still in fine form up front, Andy Irving has made a big impact with his technical skills and assists, and defenders such as Kosmas Gkezos and Nicolas Wimmer are consistently adding vital goals to a team that just won’t lie down.
LASK have only lost two of their last five but having dropped off the top of the table with no league wins in September, they’ll be desperate for a turnaround and three points in this tough fixture. The good news is that they’re still finding the net regularly, and if you look closely at their home defeat last weekend, they uncharacteristically spurned two or three gilt-edged chances at 0-0 which proved costly.
They still have Marin Ljubicic (7), Keito Nakamura (6) and Thomas Goiginger (3) to get them goals, and in this battle between two sides averaging just below two goals each per game, there will surely be more goalmouth action to come at the 28 Black Arena.
SV Ried v Rapid Vienna
Ried take on Rapid in Upper Austria on Saturday, as the hosts come in off the back of a first league win since July, and the visitors look to recover from a miserable derby defeat. It’s no exaggeration to say that the loser on Saturday may well be looking for a new coach, so this is likely to be a scrappy game with both sets of players aware that there’s a lot at stake.
Ried got their first away win of the campaign last weekend, but despite a good home record in this fixture, they have only won once at home all season, and can’t seem to pick up momentum at the Josko Arena.
They profited from a strangely passive Wolfsberger AC performance in their recent win, but Rapid should be very much an active opponent in this encounter, and Ried are likely to struggle as this game pits the league’s lowest scorers against the third tightest defence. With their top scorers on just two goals, there’s also nobody up front for Christian Heinle to truly rely on.
Rapid need a big response to their home defeat against arch-rivals Austria last weekend, and even if midfielder Nicolas Kühn misses out, manager Ferdinand Feldhofer has enough talent in his large squad to find a suitable replacement, perhaps with Thorsten Schick, who regularly proves his danger from the flanks.
With eleven goals conceded this season, Rapid have let in far fewer than those around them in the table, but they’ll need forwards Ferdy Druijf, Guido Burgstaller or Bernhard Zimmermann to find the net for a much-needed morale-boost which we believe they can and will deliver on Saturday. The derby defeat also adds some value to what should be a very winnable game for the capital club.
SK Sturm Graz v Wolfsberger
Sturm return to domestic action following a high octane draw away at Serie A side Lazio in the UEFA Europa League, as WAC look to recover from a shock defeat at the hands of bottom club Ried.
Sturm are quietly having an excellent season, and had it not been for their European exertions midweek they would be big favourites in this one. However, they worked themselves hard to score twice away in Rome and grab a draw on Thursday.
William Böving emerged as a sharpshooter with two precisely placed goals from the edge of the box, and Alexander Prass was excellent going forward again, as Sturm proved their attacking credentials on the big stage. Unbeaten in six games in all competitions at the Merkur Arena, they’ll be hard to beat.
WAC have scored and conceded 22 goals this season, making them the second-highest scorers, with the league’s second-worst defence. They’re yet to draw a blank in the Bundesliga in 2022/23 and have only come away goalless in European fixtures.
Averaging two goals a game, this side will carry a big threat to Sturm’s defence as Maurice Malone, Tai Baribo and co. will be out to prove that their home loss to Ried was just a blip. Add in the fact that away form has been by far Wolfsberg’s stronger suit this season (one defeat, 2-1 to Salzburg) and we expect them to be on the scoreboard along with Sturm on Sunday.
Austria Vienna v Red Bull Salzburg
Austria fell just short in a spirited defeat at the hands of Villarreal on Thursday, whereas Salzburg have had two extra days to recover from their away draw with Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Austria’s thoughts are with injured forward Muharem Huskovic, who scored in last weekend’s derby win, before being hospitalised in a traffic accident on Wednesday. In his absence the team put in a very solid display against a high calibre Villarreal side and were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point, although their efforts were more in containing the Spaniards, rather than attacking.
It’s a quick turnaround to face Salzburg and given that the Violets have won just four of their last 48 meetings with Salzburg, the omens are not too good for this one. Austria are an improving team, but they’ve lost four of their last six, and Salzburg are a better side than some of the European teams who Austria have struggled against.
The aggregate score in the last three meetings is 10-1 in Salzburg’s favour, although the games at the Generali Arena do tend to be closer run than those at the Red Bull Arena. Nonetheless, this youthful Salzburg squad is far better prepared to face a Bundesliga match after a European game than Austria’s similarly young side.
The Salzburg train has reached full speed by now, and they haven’t tasted defeat in any competition since losing to Sturm on match day two; that’s a 14-game unbeaten stretch. We fully expect them to continue that, and even if striker Fernando is out through injury, there are plenty of goals in the side from the likes of Noah Okafor, Benjamin Sesko, Junior Adamu and others.
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