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

Part IX: Calm Before the Sturm*

Note: This is Part IX of an ongoing series. If this is your first time reading, you may want to begin with Part I: Introductions or with the first part of my recent two-part post on Matthias Sindelar and what his legacy means for Austrian history — Part VII: The Rise of the Paper Man.

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I’m headed to Austria in just a few days and, because of that, haven’t had much time to get a long post together.

But this all just means that soon I will be able to have even better, more detailed posts. I’ll be able to give you more inside information about the culture and the matches themselves (i.e., what this series was originally intended to do). So take heart! Soon I will be there for all of you!

Also, there are no club matches this week! So I won’t have any predictions for this week’s matches in the Bundesliga, but there is still plenty to recap and a little international action to look forward to.

The clubs had a little bit of a rest on the international stage, but the Austrian National team played a fun friendly with Sweden. The National Team pulled off the 2-0 win with a Swedish own goal (though it was caused by the disruptive play of Guido Burgstaller, who plays for Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga) and an interesting shot from David Alaba, who you may know plays for Bayern Munich.

It’s worth noting that a 16 of the 23 men in the roster for this match play for clubs outside of Austria. Most (13) play for German clubs with just a couple in British clubs and one (the keeper) in a Swiss club. I may do another post later about the problems the Bundesliga seems to have with keeping its players in the league and out of the hands of the Germans, but not today.

Another little international development is that UEFA is considering restructuring the “away goals” system in its Champions League (and presumably Europa League) matches. As Tim Armitage, an analyst for the Bundesliga, said, this wouldn’t exactly hurt Austrian teams…

In the league itself, last week’s matches went about as I expected. On Saturday, Austria Wien managed to finish off Mattersburg, 2-1 after two late back-to-back goals (78’ and 79’), the first a PK and the second just a good shot. FC Wacker also pulled out a 2-1 win over Hartberg, as did St. Pölten over Altach. The three losers from Saturday’s matches are now the bottom three of the table.

On Sunday we had a little more interesting developments, but it was still about as I predicted. Sturm Graz and Rapid Wien managed to play to a 1-1 draw, with Graz’s goal coming on a PK in the 37th minute and Rapid’s coming on a left-footed kick in the 78th. Red Bull Salzburg topped Admira 3-1, adding fuel to the speculation about Admira’s chances this season. And LASK beat Wolfsberger 2-0.

The top 3 teams (Red Bull Salzburg, St. Pölten, and LASK) have begun to separate themselves, but it’s not the strongest of holds. And the middle of the table is still pretty open, with only 4 points separating the 4th place team and the 8th place team. The bottom still has some room to move around as well, but it’s looking bad for Altach, who with just two points is all but certain to be relegated.

This week is going to be very quiet. The only real match will be the Austrian National Team in the UEFA Nations League B. Austria is in Group 3 with Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with their first match on 11 September in Zenica against Bosnia and Herzegovina. This B&H team is a little interesting. They managed to win their last friendly 3-1 against a decent South Korean team, who you may remember sent Germany packing in the World Cup. So it will be fun to watch the National Team come back to competitive international play for the first time in a while.

And that will just have to hold us over for the rest of the week, as that’s all we have to look forward to until next weekend – my first weekend in Austria. I’ll preview those matches sometime next week, but it promises to be a very good round with several matches that should help determine what the final table will look like. But until then, I’m off to Austria! Auf Wiedersehen!

* Forgive the pun. I couldn’t let it go.


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