Blau-Weiß Linz’s home run in the Bundesliga will be put to the test against runners-up Sturm Graz on Sunday. The promoted team did not lose the last five matches played at home. The Graz team wants to get full points in the duel for the “winter crown” with leader Salzburg, who are tied on points. The Salzburg team will host the WAC in the Saturday match, which was postponed due to weather conditions. Austria hosts LASK. The Ländle derby between Altach and Lustenau was cancelled.
In Linz, the roles in the Bundesliga round of 16 are clearly defined and the home team has great respect for the Europa League starters. “They have achieved stability at the highest level. They have found an absolute core that has been playing in Graz for a long time. They are the absolute favorites for the championship,” said BW coach Gerald Scheiblehner. The support of the stands can be decisive in the stadium, which is sold out with nearly 6,000 spectators. “We are performing at home and it will be a different energy than last time we performed. Our fans are behind us,” said Scheiblehner, who had no cancellations to complain about.
However, there was a defeat for the rival from Graz with a painful 0-1 home defeat against Rakow Czestochowa on Thursday. As a result, promotion hopes are gone and a move to the Conference League is not yet guaranteed before the final game. “This is a lost game and disappointment that we all carry inside us. But we must get over this game as quickly as possible,” Ilzer said. Unlike Europe’s efficiency, it couldn’t have been better in the league. For the first time since the 2017/18 season, 10 of the first 15 matches were won. There was also a clear 4-1 victory against BW Linz in Graz.
Linz will probably need a lot of help before kick-off at 14.30. Blau-Weiß Linz wrote on social media: “We invite everyone to help us clear the snow from the stadium so that the Sturm Graz match can be played. We are happy for your support. Please bring your snow shovel with you.” Saturday. The meeting point is in front of the Hofmann Personal Stadium at 7 am.
Hopefully we will have finished shoveling snow in Salzburg by 14.30. The “Bulls” match against WAC had to be postponed from Saturday to Sunday due to the amount of fresh snow. The duel for the “winter crown” with the same points against the Graz team lived up to its name. However, Salzburg may fall behind because they have only won one of their four league matches this season after the Champions League matches.
Of course, this should vary depending on the WAC. Ahead of the duel with his former club, coach Gerhard Struber emphasized his ambition to stay at the top. “It is extremely important for us to return to the daily Bundesliga clash at full strength and with the right focus,” said Struber. He also wants to motivate his young team to stay at the top. “Our goal should be to continue to leave everything behind on the table. But to do that, we must also consider investing.”
Struber said of his former club that the WAC was “a very strong club that is achieving good results at the moment and is stable”. The sixth-placed team has won three league matches in a row recently. Struber left Wolfsberg for Barnsley less than six months later in 2019. He looks forward to another meeting. Although Salzburg won the first duel of the season 2-1, the champion team remained behind 0-1 until the 60th minute.
The only man missing from the “Wolves” camp is Thomas Sabitzer, who had to take a break due to suspected pubic inflammation. Currently sixth in the standings, the WAC has a good chance of reaching the championship bracket. After the match in Wals-Siezenheim, a trip to Hartberg awaits us at the end of the year. The Eastern Styrians are in fourth place, just two points behind. WAC is two points ahead of Rapid, which is in seventh place.
At the distribution circle in Favoriten, Austria hopes to control the snow masses with the help of pitch heating ahead of the duel against LASK, which starts at 17:00. Rumors of a transfer to Kaiserslautern for Austrian coach Michael Wimmer are likely to become more persistent, despite both Wimmer and sporting director Manuel Ortlechner having previously assured that there was no investigation coming to them.
Considering the extremely critical financial situation that continues in Austria, it is undeniable that not only the stadium, but also the players and coaches can come to the sales room. “Of course, this constantly resonates,” said Ortlechner, especially regarding player transfers. After all, this is a business model.
The important thing for Austria now is LASK and reaching the championship group. Sixth-placed WAC are four points behind the 0-1 defeat at Wolfsberg, so a home win against Athletes will be even more important. In any case, Ortlechner hoped that the favorites would go into the match against Linz “with some anger in their stomachs”.
In his mind and bones, Wimmer did not want to view LASK’s 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on Thursday as an advantage. “It’s up to us how we approach the game. How we stress the opponent. How we behave when we have the ball.” Recently, there has been aggression at some construction sites. “It’s about developing a little more greed in the players so they’re a little more willing to score goals,” said Wimmer, whose team had conceded just 14 goals in 15 outings.
But it is important for LASK to get back on the path to success after their unsuccessful Europa League trip and secure third place behind Salzburg and Sturm Graz and ahead of Hartberg. “We must put our disappointment aside on Sunday and get three points against Austria,” said Sascha Horvath. Coach Thomas Sageder expects a lot of work. “Austria have been pretty consistent over the last few weeks. It’s important to find good solutions when you have the ball, but at the same time be very careful and give your opponent as few opportunities for change as possible.”
The Ländle derby between Altach and Austrian Lustenau, planned for Sunday, had to be canceled due to weather conditions. This match, like the WSG Tirol – Rapid and Klagenfurt – Hartberg matches played on Saturdays, needs to be rescheduled.