Altach v WSG Tirol
It’s been a season of unwanted records for Altach – including the longest losing streak of any club this season (10 games) and the fewest goals scored by any Bundesliga team in the last decade (22) – and yet they have managed to claw back the gap to their rivals and give themselves a shot at beating the drop on the final day. They will go into Matchday 32 two points behind a trio of teams (Ried, Hartberg and Admira) and must win to have any chance of extending their eight-season stay in the Austrian top flight.
Their opponents are a WSG Tirol side that have come out of nowhere to secure top spot in the Qualification Round with a match to spare. That means the Tyroleans are already sure of their place in the internal play-off – the top two in the bottom half of the table go head-to-head for the right to take on the fifth-placed team in the top half in a two-legged final, with the winner booking a Europa Conference League qualifying berth – and could rest players ahead of the semi-final on Monday evening.
The two teams have a relatively even head-to-head record – Altach are winless in three home games against WSG Tirol but won the reverse fixture this spring 3-0 – and there are no discernible advantages for either side on the personnel front either, with both squads at full strength. We’re therefore inclined to back the Vorarlbergers to complete their escape and keep their place in the Bundesliga – a prospect that looked unthinkable around Christmas time.
Hartberg v Ried
Two of the teams basement boys Altach are looking to usurp are Hartberg and Ried, who will go into their final day clash level on 21 points and in the unusual position that they could either be relegated or qualify for the European play-off depending on the outcome of this game and results elsewhere. But there is more pressure on Hartberg than Ried: unlike the former, the latter had an odd number of points when the points were halved at the end of the regular season and so will finish above their relegation rivals in the event of a draw.
Ried have the better head-to-head record too, having won three and drawn four of their seven previous top-flight meetings. The form book definitively favours the Styrian side, however: while Klaus Schmidt’s men have taken seven points from their last four matches and beaten two of their main relegation rivals – Altach and Admira – in the process, Ried are winless since defeating LASK in the Upper Austrian derby at the very beginning of April and have won only that one away game since the start of November.
Based on those facts and stats, you could make a case for both teams coming out on top in this relegation showdown – but we would be reluctant to back either side in a game where Bundesliga survival is at stake for both and fine margins are likely to determine the outcome. Instead, our suggestion would be to bet on more than 2.5 goals being scored. After all, this is a meeting of two of the leakiest defences in the league and the two teams have kept only one clean sheet between them in the last five rounds.
LASK v Admira
LASK went into this season on the back of a fourth-placed finish last term and performed better than any other club on the continent in the group stages of the newly launched Europa Conference League, so it was surprising that they missed out on the top six and then only sealed their survival on the penultimate matchday. Their one shot at redemption is that they will qualify for the European play-offs with a win on the final day, although an Admira side battling relegation will be no pushover. Having had an even number of points when the league split in half, the Lower Austrians were not rounded down and so must win to be sure of staying up.
Anyone looking to forensically analyse what has gone wrong for the Linzers this season would be forced to conclude that their underperformance can, in part, be attributed to injuries, with centre-backs Philipp Wiesinger and Yannis Letard the latest in a long line of sidelined players. Admira have some injury woes of their own: Roman Kerschbaum is likely to miss his last game for the club before joining Rapid after failing to shrug off a persistent ankle problem, while key centre-back Wilhelm Vorsager is suspended.
LASK are unbeaten in 11 league meetings with Admira – though the stalemate between the teams last time out was the first time that they have dropped points at all during that run following a 10-game winning streak – and have scored in each of their last 26 meetings with the Südstädter. The emphatic nature of this record leads us to conclude that Didi Kühbauer’s men are heavy favourites to take all three points in this game and book their spot in the play-off semi-final against WSG Tirol on Monday.
Austria Vienna v Sturm Graz
Despite making a poor start to the season and having licensing issues hanging over their heads off the pitch, Austria Vienna will go into the final day of the season with their fate in their own hands. Win against Sturm Graz and there is nothing Rapid or Wolfsberg can do to deny them third place and an automatic Europa League group spot. Sturm Graz, meanwhile, are 11 points clear in second place and have little to play for but can at least look forward to a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds this summer.
The Violets could perhaps have gotten closer to the Blackies in the table, having sustained only one defeat fewer over the course of the season. The problem has been the sheer number of games Austria have drawn (13) – more than any other club in the top half and the joint-most of any team in a season since the league’s format was changed ahead of 2018/19. Sturm Graz have already beaten their points record under the new format and could become only the second club outside of Salzburg – after LASK in the 2018/19 campaign – to reach the 40-point mark in a season during that period.
Neither side has any notable advantage on the personnel front, and while Sturm boast the better form and have won three of the last six meetings between the teams, they have less on the line and slumped to a heavy home defeat against Wolfsberg last time out. With that in mind, we’d be tempted to bet on over 2.5 goals being scored in this game. The reverse fixture in the Championship Round, which Sturm won 1-0 at home, was the only one of the last five meetings where that has not happened.
Wolfsberg v Rapid Vienna
It is surely a positive for Austria Vienna that the two teams with a chance of overtaking them are going head-to-head this weekend: Wolfsberg and Rapid Vienna both have 25 points, one fewer than Austria. But whereas a draw would not be enough for Wolfsberg to overtake the capital clubs due their inferior head-to-head record, a point would work for Rapid. They have an even head-to-head record with Austria but a goal difference that is currently superior by one and so third place could come down to the finest of margins.
Wolfsberg will be without their dynamic central midfielder Matthäus Taferner, who is suspended, but they are otherwise almost at full strength, with only left-back Jonathan Scherzer unavailable through injury. A knee injury means Schalke-bound defender Leo Greiml will not play again for the Green & Whites before departing the club, while a cruciate ligament injury sustained by Dejan Petrovic last weekend means we are unlikely to see the central midfielder feature again this calendar year.
Rapid Vienna will be looking to draw inspiration from this fixture in last season’s Championship Round: the Hütteldorfers won 8-1 on a truly bonkers day at the Lavanttal-Arena in Carinthia. Overall, they have the better of the recent head-to-head record, with five wins and two defeats from the previous seven meetings. But this one could honestly go either way and with neither side having kept a single clean sheet in the last five rounds of matches, our tip is to put your money on over 2.5 goals.
Red Bull Salzburg v Austria Klagenfurt
This match is the dictionary definition of a dead rubber – Salzburg have already wrapped up a ninth successive league title and have a 14-point lead over second place, while Austria Klagenfurt are five points adrift at the bottom of the Championship Round – and yet there is somehow still something to play for: the Red Bulls currently have 51 points and will overtake the record set under the new format by former coach Marco Rose (52 in 2018/19) with a home win on the final day of the season.
Attacker Karim Adeyemi is set to play his final game for Salzburg before linking up with Rose at Borussia Dortmund over the border in Germany. His usual strike partner Noah Okafor is not expected to play due to a toe injury, but his absence is unlikely to be felt too heavily given Luka Sucic’s form: the young Croat has six goals in his last seven games and has arguably been their best player in the second half-season. On the other side, Austria Klagenfurt will bid farewell to loanee Alex Timossi Andersson, who has had a remarkable season for the promoted outfit but will return to his parent club Bayern Munich at the close of the campaign.
The Carinthians caused a major shock when they became the first Austrian club to defeat Salzburg this season, but the Red Bulls atoned for that blip in the Championship Round by handing out a 6-0 thrashing. We could quite easily foresee another Salzburg goal fest and with Austria Klagenfurt finding the net in each of their five games too, our recommendation for this match is on over 3.5 goals being scored.
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