Fisch auf dem Trockenen: An American’s Journey Through the Austrian Bundesliga, Part III

“The first 90 minutes are the most important.”

– Sir Robert William “Bobby” Robson

Part III: It Begins

Note: This is Part III of an ongoing series. If this is your first time reading, you may want to begin with Part I: Introductions and Part II: The League

Today begins the official season of the Austrian Bundesliga, with FK Austria Wien and FC Wacker Innsbruck kicking off six straight weeks of league play. But first a little correction…

Earlier in this series I mentioned that I would probably get some things wrong along the way. It seems I was right… though I didn’t think it would be quite this early!

Last week I said that the games being played were inter-league friendlies.

Oops.

Last week was actually the first round of the major “ÖFB Cup,” which is played throughout the season between members of the Bundesliga, the 2. Liga, the Regionalliga, and some of the even smaller Landesliga winners. I was actually able to watch (and live-tweet) several of these matches, being played in some of the more remote areas of Austria. Places like Gurten, a tiny town where 94% of the land is covered by fields and forests, and Parndorf, a town of about 4,600 whose stadium was surrounded by lovely windmills. I watched as a storm rolled from one end of the country to the other, reminding me that Austria is only slightly larger than South Carolina; if it were a state, it would rank 40th in terms of area.

Overall, the first round of the ÖFB cup went about as expected. The teams from the Bundesliga dominated, with all but one winning their contests (FC Flyeralarm Admira surprisingly lost their match to a team from the Regionalliga Ost, SC Neusiedl am See). The 2. Liga also did well, with only two teams (SKU Amstetten and FC Blau-Weiß Linz) falling to teams from the Regionalliga (Deutschlandsberger SC and ATSV Stadl-Paura, respectively).

I’ll talk more about the ÖFB Cup in another post, since I’ll actually be in Austria for the next round (September 25 and 26). But for now, let’s get back to the opening of the Bundesliga.

Today’s game between FK Austria Wien and FC Wacker Innsbruck at Generali Arena in Vienna opens up the 107th season of the Bundesliga (well, kind of… I’ll get to that in another post). As I mentioned before, this will be the first season in which the Bundesliga has had 12 teams after their recent expansion. It’s the first season Wacker will be in the league since 2014. It’s also the first season that I will be following. So a few firsts and a 107th. Sounds about right.

As far as the opening game itself goes, this will be the first time that FK Austria Wien and FC Wacker Innsbruck have met since 2014 – a game that ended in a 1:1 draw.

Wacker has been in the 2. Liga since 2014, having been relegated at the end of the 2013/14 season. This is their first time to win promotion back into the Bundesliga since then, aided in part by the league expansion. They’re hoping to capitalize on their promotion and continue to be in the Bundesliga as a permanent fixture.

FK Austria Wien is a permanent fixture in the Bundesliga, having never been relegated out. They finished in the lower half of the table last year, with a poor record of 12 wins, 7 draws, and 17 losses. However, two years ago they were runners-up to win the league, so they shouldn’t be too concerned.

The rest of the league plays on Saturday and Sunday:

  • SK Puntigamer Sturm Graz vs. TSV Prolactal Hartburg (Saturday)
  • Cashpoint SCR Altach vs. SV Mattersburg (Saturday)
  • FC Red Bull Salzburg vs. LASK (Sunday)
  • FC Flyeralarm Admira vs. SK Rapid Wien (Sunday)
  • SKN St. Pölten vs. RZ Pellets WAC (Sunday)

Today’s match will be at 2:45pm Eastern time (8:45pm in Austria), but all of the matches on Saturday and Sunday will be at 11:00am Eastern time (5:00pm in Austria). I’m still not 100% certain how I’m going to watch these games here, but I will try to watch at least a little bit.

As a side-note, you can actually watch many (though sadly not all) of the matches from the ÖFB cup streaming on their YouTube Channel. That’s how I was able to watch so many last week. I’ll be posting about the next round before it happens, so hopefully you can all watch along with me.

I’ll have another post wrapping up this first round after it’s done, followed by a preview of the next round. But until then, Auf Wiedersehen!

Update: You can continue this series with Part IV: The First Match

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