we have waited long enough, we have to be ready. sturm graz are to provide a serious litmus test. we'll know much better tomorrow how we are positioned going into the season.
By starting the league against Sturm Graz, our boys face a tough task at the Merkur Arena. All eyes will be on the match on Friday that opens the Austrian league season. Most neutrals expect a close encounter as Graz were the only Austrian team to beat us twice last season. Let's not forget that we won three of the five encounters in total, however. Then on the other hand, only one of our wins was truly comfortable. Christian Ilzer definitely knows how to set his team up solidly and make them dangerous on the break.
If there was such a title for most improved team, Sturm would likely have been the winners last season. Without having any star players, they have been solid and efficient. We shouldn't perhaps expect them to play the same this time around though. They signed a speedy striker already in the winter in the shape of Kelvin Yeboah. In Manprit Sarkaria, Alex Prass and David Affengruber they have recruited some well-developed pressing machines, who will be able to easily integrate into Ilzer's system. Graz might therefore be a little better even than last time around.
The match will be Matthias Jaissle's first in the ADMIRAL Bundesliga. Our coach appeared to be pleased with our pre-season, even if he says he is pleased the serious business is finally getting going. He is unable to pick from a full squad for the season opener, unfortunately. His attacking options, in particular, are limited. Due to the absences of Mergim Berisha and Noah Okafor, there are just three options for the two striking positions in Jaissle's 4-4-2: Karim Adeyemi, Benjamin Sesko and Junior Adamu.
The same can't be said for midfield, where there are all kinds of options. The standout player of the cup win against Hertha Wels was Zlatko Junuzovic, who was the clear winner in our app vote for Man of the Match.
You can be among the first to find out the starting XI for our first match in the Austrian Bundesliga season in our App. We will provide live updates on our English Twitter channel from 20:20 CET.
Tomorrow's match will be the first ever in the Austrian league to use VAR.
Albert Vallci (Achilles), Sekou Koita (knee) and Mergim Berisha (groin) will be out due to injury. Noah Okafor suffered a hardening in his adductor area in the cup match against Wels and is out.
Matthias Jaissle on …
… the start to the Austrian Bundesliga on Friday:
We are pleased that things are finally getting going in the Bundesliga too. After the win in the cup against Hertha Wels we have a real crunch match to start the league with. We have had a lot of change this summer. The development of the team is in process and will not be finished for some time. It needs to take its time. We can't wait to see how far our boys are able to put the new things they've learned into practice against a top set of opponents. The match against Sturm Graz will be a good start to show where we are.
… Camara, Piatkowski and Ulmer, who have not been used recently due to their late return to training:
All three are a full part of training now and are doing what they do really well already. They are showing clear signs of improvement. Thankfully I still have a little time before making a final decision on who is in the squad.
Max Wöber on …
… the match against Sturm:
We expect to face very difficult opponents on Friday in what will hopefully be a full house. With the fans and the atmosphere, it will definitely be a heated and hard-fought game. It will be important that we are really sharp with second balls, in particular. Our aim is to take three points.
… the rivals in the title race:
I think that they will be the usual suspects. Rapid, Sturm and LASK. You can't underestimate Austria Vienna, who have an interesting new team after lots of changes this summer. It isn't so important for us, as we want to do our thing against every team and beat them all.
most recent Bundesliga clashes v Sturm:
09.05.2021 SK Sturm Graz 1–3 FC Red Bull Salzburg (H/T:0-1)
04.04.2021 FC Red Bull Salzburg 3–1 SK Sturm Graz (3-1)
28.02.2021 SK Sturm Graz 2–1 FC Red Bull Salzburg (2-0)
21.11.2020 FC Red Bull Salzburg 1–3 SK Sturm Graz (0-0)