Doubts play a part in the title showdown at Salzburg

Doubts play a part in the title showdown at Salzburg
Salzburg won the most recent duel in Graz. It was the only win against Sturm this season.
Image: Erwin Scheriau (APA/Erwin Scheriau)

You shouldn’t be completely convinced at Salzburg that after the title showdown against Sturm Graz on Sunday (5 p.m., ORF 1), the tenth championship party in a row in the Bundesliga will take place: the upper tier will remain closed – the fear is that the Styrian fans win the direct duel, at least in the stands.

Officially, it is security concerns and short-term disadvantages for season ticket holders that prompted Salzburg not to exceptionally open the upper tier as in the European Cup. On the other hand, the series champion is confident of victory: “We worked hard to be able to close the sack on Sunday,” said coach Matthias Jaissle. After a win, the final whistle would be the starting whistle for the championship party – with a six-point lead two laps before the end, Salzburg would no longer be overtaken due to the star because of the rounding off from the regular season.

For Salzburg it would be the 17th title overall, the national series would be continued with ten championships. “Winning ten titles in a row would be an outstanding story,” said sporting director Christoph Freund.

Sturm doesn’t just want to delay the celebration. “We’ve already proven in the past that we can beat Salzburg. It’s our job to bring our talent, our skills and our team spirit onto the pitch at the absolute best level,” explained coach Christian Ilzer. Only then does the chance of the really big coup live. With a win, Sturm draw level with Salzburg, only the star in the table then puts the champions at the top – and the last two rounds are an unusual nerve test for Salzburg. Maybe then Jaissle will feel the pressure. Yesterday he reinterpreted it as a motivation: “It’s a privilege to be able to play for the championship.”

Great game “for all of Austria”

The season record speaks for the challenger, as Sturm has celebrated two wins and a draw, including the cup semi-finals. Grazers have only lost one of the last five games across all competitions – that was the 0:2 in Graz in the most recent meeting on April 23rd.

“There is not often a game in Austria where the first and second meet in a direct duel so close to the end and there is a possibility that one of the teams can become champion,” said Freund. Ilzer spoke of a great game “for all of Austria”: “Unusual that there is still so much explosiveness three rounds before the end of the championship.” He interpreted that as proof of the quality of his team: “It’s mainly up to us and it’s proof of our strength and consistency, and not because Salzburg left so much behind this year.”

more from football Austria

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Salzburg and Sturm Graz in step

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