A historic season is over. It was a campaign full of emotions and spectacular successes, which we are to not going to forget for a long, long time. Along with some sensational performances in the UEFA Europa League, our boys notched up win after win in the Austrian Bundesliga to take a richly deserved fifth league title in a row with a 13-point lead. It is time to take a quick look back at the 36 matches of the Tipico Bundesliga.
We were in three competitions right to the very end. It was an incredible season in which the team developed extremely well. If anyone had told us before the season that it would go so well, we would have snapped their hand off.
Sporting director Christoph Freund made an overwhelmingly positive review of the season, and can be more than proud of what has been accomplished. With the third-youngest title-winning team in Europe we not only managed to set a new points record with 83 points, but we also achieved the feat of going unbeaten at home all season long. We have not lost a match at the Red Bull Arena since back in November 2016.
It was this consistency that was crucial in allowing us to pull away from our title race rivals in the spring. While we were locked in a close battle with Sturm Graz throughout the autumn, after the winter break we managed to pull clear of the Blackies with continually good performances - despite an extremely demanding fixture list. Having first moved to the top of the table after 21 matches of the season, we didn't let the league lead out of our grasp until the end of the season.
Best mark after best mark
A vital component in our success was our defensive stability. With just 29 goals conceded, we had by far the best defence in the league. Our goal difference of +52 goals was more than double that of the second best in the league, Rapid Vienna's +25. In many other fields we had our noses in front too. We were the strongest passing side with 79.3 percent passing accuracy, and we also finished top of the fair play table with just 56 yellow cards and three sending offs. Our boys also proved to be true last-minute specialists. We scored a decisive goal in six of our matches in the final minutes - bringing in a total of eleven points. Marco Rose rightfully continually praised the superb mentality of the team. There was no need for any late drama though in the two biggest wins of the season against Sturm Graz (15th game week) and Austria Vienna (27th game week) - two 5-0 victories.
goals & Assists
At the centre of attention were of course the players who were involved in our goals. Above all, Munas Dabbur, who became Austrian top goalscorer with 22 goals. Second place in the list of the club's highest scorers was Fredrik Gulbrandsen with 11 goals. The most assists were provided by Andreas Ulmer (10) and Valon Berisha (9).
A total of 31 players were used by Marco Rose over the season. The core of the 11 most used players played over two-thirds of the total playing time in the Austrian Bundesliga. It could have been even more were it not for regular rotation and Marco Rose's concept of all players in the squad being treated as regulars. The most frequently used was the ever dependable Stefan Lainer. Stevie made 33 appearances in the past Austrian Bundesliga season, playing 2,641 minutes of football. Munas Dabbur (2,524 minutes of play) and Duje Caleta-Car (2,428 minutes of play) followed close behind.