DAVID SMITH - Friday, October 3, 2014
Conor O'Brien and Wiener Neustadt will try to avoid another Salzburg avalanche of goals while Shawn Barry and Linz will continue their fight atop the table against visiting Lustenau.
RB Salzburg - SC Wiener Neustadt
Conor O'Brien and Neustadt fact a daunting task on Sunday afternoon when they visit Bundesliga powerhouse RB Salzburg.
The last time Neustadt faced the Red Bulls in late-July, they surrendered a shocking five goals in the embarrassing shut-out loss.
While this was in the midst of a horrid start where they allowed 12 in their first three and prior to O'Brien's arrival in the midfield, their recent form has indicated that they will have a difficult time to take anything from their trip to the reigning champions.
They have not won in league play since late-August, and have sputtered on the attacking end during their most recent few league outings.
A 1-0 loss at home to erstwhile last-place Ried was perhaps the most discouraging result, as a game which they would have expected to win ultimately dropped them down into last-place.
After what had been a brilliant start to the new season, Salzburg did slip somewhat during the month of August and are currently in second, but have come alive as of late.
They made easy work of lower-division Wiener Sportklub in a 12-1 Austrian Cup win, and followed that with a convincing 2-1 victory over Rapid in league play last weekend and a road win by the same scoreline at Romanian club Astra Giurgiu in Europa League action on Thursday night.
Salzburg coach Marcel Sabitzer will likely be missing Isaac Vorsah and Valon Berisha both due to knee injuries, Rodnei who is working his way back from a groin pull and Asger Sörensen, who is out with an ankle problem.
Neustadt are not reporting any absences.
LASK Linz - Austria Lustenau
Shawn Barry and Linz will continue their surprising run to the top of the Erste Liga standings on Friday when they host Austria Lustenau.
Linz have been a surprising force in the division since their recent promotion from the third tier, racking up seven wins in their first 12 games to be one of the three teams fighting for dominance in the division.
They are currently in second, trailing Mattersburg only by goal differential, and will hope that a home game against Lustenau will be the springboard they need to take over top spot.
Linz held on for a 2-1 home win over St. Pölten last weekend, and their overall consistency as of late could be a handy tool against a streaky Lustenau side that hovers seems to bounce between success and disaster.
Lustenau looked imperious in their 5-2 win over division challengers Liefering last weekend, but have also been defensively frail in other outings, two other times giving up three goals during the month of September, and generally struggling with only three wins in their first 12 games.
Linz won the first meeting of these two sides by a 2-1 score in early-August, and will be confident of doing the same on home turf on Friday.
Neither team is reporting any absences.
Keith Cardona will likely not be in uniform for Liefering on Friday when they host Wacker Innsbruck.