Is This The Closest League in Europe?
The Austrian Bundesliga is one of the smallest leagues in Europe, consisting of only 10 clubs, but this season is looking really close. Already 2/3rds of the way through and many of the teams are still in with a shout of winning the title.
One reason so many teams are still in the hunt is that over 1/3rd of the matches have ended in stalemate. Salzburg, the leaders, has already lost as many matches as Wacker Innsbruck, in 7th place. The difference between the two sides is that Salzburg has won 4 more matches than Wacker.
If you look at the top six, they are very difficult to beat at home, and away wins could well be the ultimate factor which decides the destination of the trophy. The champions, Sturm Graz, are in the surprising position of having played 12 matches away from home and yet to come away with a win. Yet, they are just 8pts off the pace with a game in hand.
Leaders, Salzburg, are the most successful club in recent years winning three out of the last five titles. Sturm Graz title last year was their first since their back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999. Rapid Wien is still the most successful club in Austrian football with 32 titles.
Just before today’s matches, the top three teams were all on 38pts, with Ried just 3pts behind. But a 1-0 win for Salzburg at Kapfenburg Superfund, gave them a bit of breathing space at the top. Today’s results seemed to sum up the season as the four matches contained just three goals with only one producing a winner. Goals have been hard to come by with three sides yet to average a goal-per-game. Top scorers, Salzburg, has only managed 38 goals in 25 matches.
The Austrian Bundesliga is much like the Scottish Premier League used to be in which ten teams play each other twice at home and twice away. The champions go into the Second qualifying round of the Champions League, with the 2nd and 3rd placed teams into the Europa League. The 2nd placed club enters one round later than the 3rd placed team. The team who finishes bottom is relegated to the Austrian Football First League.
In a league with so few teams, one aspect that has contributed to a bunching of sides is that the bottom club, Kapfenburg Superfund, has performed so badly compared to the rest of the league, wining just 4 games and scoring only 16 goals in 25 matches. They’re 10pts from safety and look doomed.
For Champions, Sturm Graz, they need to pull themselves out of their current slump. They’re yet to win or score in their last 4 matches, although they’ve only lost one of those. They’ve won just 2 of their last 8 games, although they beat 3rd place, Austria Wien 5-1 in one of those victories.
The Austrian Bundesliga began in 1911. Of the 10 clubs currently competing in this season’s Bundesliga, Ried, Mattersburg, Wiener Neustadt and Kapfenburg have yet to win a title.
This current competition could go right down to the wire.