Football Season Guide

AC Wolfsberger

In


Gerhard Struber (manager), Stefan Peric (def) (Wacker Innsbruck), Anderson Niangbo (att) (Salzburg - loan), Alexander Schmidt (att) (Salzburg - loan), Shon Weissman (att) (Maccabi Haifa), Manuel Kuttin (gk) (Admira)

Out


Christian Ilzer (manager) (Austria), Gerald Nutz (sp) (att) (GAK), Bernd Gschweidl (sp) (att) (Altach), Sekou Koita (att) (Salzburg - back from loan), Kevin Friesenbichler (sp) (att) (Austria Vienna - back from loan)

After several seasons in which they left plenty to be desired both in terms of playing style and results, Wolfsberger enjoyed an excellent 2018/19 season, qualifying for Europe and playing some eye-catching stuff in the process. Unfortunately for the Wolves, their success made it impossible for them to keep hold of their highly rated manager Christian Ilzer, who was tempted away by Austria Vienna. The club's reaction was to go for another promising manager in Gerhard Struber, who did a good job in charge of Salzburg's reserve side Liefering, but has no previous experience of managing in the top flight. Struber has brought in two of his former Liefering players in Anderson Niangbo and Alex Schmidt, while two proven Bundesliga players have joined in Manuel Kuttin and Stefan Peric. No important players have left during the summer, with all of the players who left the club having played only bit-part roles this time around. While Wolfsberger's playing squad looks a touch stronger than last season, it needs to be noted that they are widely seen as a side that has overachieved last time around. Moreover, Ilzer was arguably the main reason for their success and their new boss Struber has some rather large shoes to fill.

Target


Wolfsberger will be aiming for a midtable finish. Struber will also be expecting to maintain the attacking-minded brand of football that his predecessor was known for.

Admira Wacker

In


Roman Kerschbaum (mid) (Wacker Innsbruck), Christoph Haas (gk) (Horn), Fabian Menig (def) (Preußen Münster)

Out


Lukas Malicsek (sp) (mid) (Horn - loan), Sasa Kalajdzic (r) (mid/att) (VfB Stuttgart), Manuel Kuttin (r) (gk) (Wolfsberger), Stephan Zwierschitz (k) (def) (Austria), Kolja Pusch (sp) (mid) (Heidenheim - loan), Pyry Soiri (sp) (att) (Esbjerg fB)

After several seasons in which they punched above their weight, Admira endured a rather difficult 2018/19 campaign and battled the drop in the majority of the season. Their autumn campaign was particularly difficult and they looked like likely travelers to the second tier going into the winter break, but Reiner Geyer eventually managed to pick them up and guide them to safety. The Modlingers have become a regular fixture in the Bundesliga over the recent years, which is an achievement in itself, given that the financial situation of the club is far from stellar and causes them to sell their best player pretty much every summer. Things were no different this time around, with three key men leaving for pastures new in Sasa Kalajdzic, Manuel Kuttin and Stephan Zwierschitz. Several rotation players have also left, while only three players have signed in Roman Kerschbaum, Christoph Haas and Fabian Menig, who sign as like-for-like replacements for the aforementioned departed key trio, but it is hard to see them as anything other than inferior replacements. While Admira have shown plenty of promise under Geyer, their squad is certainly weaker than it was last season. This further means that, in order for the Modlingers to stay up, the German boss needs to join a string of managers that got them to punch above their weight.

Target


Given that they have weakened during the summer transfer window, Admira will be pleased as long as they manage to stay clear of danger.

Altach

In


Aljaz Casar (mid) (ND Mura), Daniel Nussbaumer (mid) (VfB Stuttgart II), Ousmane Diakité (att) (Red Bull Salzburg - loan), Florian Jamnig (mid) (LASK), Bernd Gschweidl (att) (WAC), Matthias Puschl (mid) (Kapfenberg), Matthias Maak (def) (Wacker Innsbruck), Frantz Pangop (mid) (Minnesota United), Volkan Akyildiz (att) (Wr. Neustadt - back from loan), Michael Cheukoua (att) (Wiener Neustadt - back from loan), Johannes Tartarotti (mid) (Wiener Neustadt - back from loan)

Out


Stefan Nutz (sp) (mid) (Ried), Simon Piesinger (sp) (mid) (Randers FC), Andreas Lienhart (r) (def) (Hartberg), Benedikt Zech (r) (def) (Pogon Stettin), Adrian Grbic (sp) (att) (Clermont Foot), Valentino Müller (sp) (mid) (LASK), Louis Ngwat-Mahop (sp) (att) (Nurnberg), Andreas Lukse (sp) (gk) (FC Nürnberg), Joshua Gatt (sp) (att) (released), Felix Luckeneder (r) (def) (LASK - back from loan)

Altach struggled for the majority of the 2018/19 season but improved in the late stages of the campaign and eventually managed to stir clear of danger, even launching an unlikely European push late on. Alex Pastoor, who took over in the second half of the season, looked set to depart following the departure of his short-term deal, but the club eventually managed to persuade the Dutch manager to change his mind and sign a contact extension. Given that Pastoor did not have a previous transfer window to make the squad his own, it is hardly a surprise that Altach were the most active in the transfer window out of all Bundesliga clubs. A number of players have come and gone. No truly key players have left the club, while the list of arrivals is a mix of youth and proven Bundesliga players such as Berndt Gschweidl and Mathias Maak. What will certainly set the Altachers' mood going into the new season are their performances from the second half of the previous campaign. Pastoor has got them to look like a well-organized and a competitive side and, following a decent summer transfer window, Altach fans will fancy their side to maintain that momentum.

Target


While hoping to finish inside the top half and battle for a European place, they would be reasonably pleased with a midtable finish.

Austria Vienna

In


Christian Ilzer (manager), Johannes Handl (def) (Wacker Innsbruck), Caner Cavlan (def) (FC Emmen), Maudo Jarjue (def) (FK Sabail), Benedikt Pichler (mid) (Austria Klagenfurt), Stephan Zwierschitz (def) (Admira), Tarkan Serbest (mid) (Kasimpasa - back from loan)

Out


Mohammed Kadiri (sp) (def) (Dynamo Kiev), Igor (r) (def) (Salzburg - back from loan), Cristian Cuevas (r) (def) (Huachipato - back from loan), Uros Matic (r) (mid) (FCK - back from loan), Thomas Salamon (sp) (def) (released)

Despite qualifying for Europe, Austria have endured a disappointing 2018/19 campaign, given that their goal going into the season was to finish second, which they never looked like doing. Thomas Letsch was fired early in the spring season and Robert Ibertsberger spent the remainder of the campaign as their caretaker. His chances of getting the job full-time were always close to zero, given that the Violets already went down the route of appointing a previous caretaker with Letsch and opted for a more proven man this time around. They were able to tempt away Christian Ilzer from Wolfsberger, which is an appointment that will please the majority of their fans, given how well Austria's new manager did with his previous two clubs. Igor Julio, Cristian Cuevas and Uros Matic are all back with their parent club, while the list of arrivals consists of several stabs in the dark and a proven Bundesliga player in Stephan Zwierschitz. The squad therefore looks to be on a similar level compared to last season and Ilzer's job will be to improve the fortunes of a side that underperformed last season. Austria were particularly poor on their travels last time around, with scoring goals a particularly large problem, but Ilzer's attacking-minded approach suggests that this issue could be solved this time around.

Target


The Violets' expectations are high following the appointment of their new boss and they will be hoping for a second-placed finish.

Hartberg

In


Felix Luckeneder (def) (LASK - loan), Christian Klem (def) (Wacker Innsbruck), Andreas Lienhart (def) (Altach), Lukas Gabbichler (mid) (Weiz), Marcel Holzer (att) (Amstetten - back from loan), Stefan Rakowitz (mid) (Wacker Innsbruck), Tomas Ostrak (att) (Köln - loan), Patrick Obermüller (def) (Rapid - loan)

Out


Florian Flecker (r) (mid) (Union Berlin), Fabian Schubert (sp) (att) (released), Christian Ilic (sp) (def) (released), Michael Blauensteiner (sp) (mid) (Austria - back from loan), Reuben Acquah (sp) (mid) (LASK - back from loan), Mohamed Camara (sp) (mid) (Salzburg - back from loan), Sebastian Mann (sp) (mid) (released), Meris Skenderovic (sp) (att) (Hoffenheim - back from loan)

The 2018/19 season was Hartberg's first-ever in the top flight and they were widely considered to be likely to go straight back down to Erste Liga. The superb first half of the season they have had made sure that their Bundesliga dream will go on for at least one more season, but they ended up staying up by the skin of their teeth, having finished just above bottom Wacker Innsbruck. They were the league's worst side in the second half of the previous campaign and would have gone down had they not done as well as they did in the first half of the season. Their board's decision to stick with Markus Schopp therefore comes as a bit of a surprise. Hartberg are desperately short of momentum and have not performed well for a while, but perhaps their board's decision to stick with the manager means that they accept the fact that Hartberg cannot be expected to maintain themselves in the top flight for too long. One of their top performers has left in Florian Flecker, but they have made several signings with Bundesliga experience in Felix Luckender, Christian Klem, Andy Lienhart and Stefan Rakowicz. Shipping in goals was among their main problems last season, so it is hardly a surprise that they signed four defenders this time around. Despite losing Flecker, Hartberg look a touch stronger than they were last season, but time will tell whether or not this will be enough for them to stay up.

Target


Hartberg once again enter the season as one of the main candidates to go down and will be pleased as long as they managed to stay up.

LASK Linz

In


Valerien Ismael (manager), Rene Renner (mid) (Mattersburg), Thomas Sabitzer (mid) (Kapfenberg), David Schnegg (att) (Liefering), Valentino Muller (mid) (Altach), Reuben Acquah (mid) (Altach - back from loan)

Out


Oliver Glasner (manager) (Wolfsburg), Florian Jamnig (sp) (mid) (Altach), Bruno Felipe (mid) (Olympiakos), Joao Victor (k) (att) (Wolfsburg), Dogan Erdogan (mid) (Trabzonspor)

LASK have had a superb 2018/19 season - they were eliminated from Besiktas only on away goals and went on to enjoy a superb league campaign that saw them finish second in the Bundesliga table. Sadly for the Linzers, their success has made it impossible for them to keep hold of their manager Oliver Glasner. He has received several offers from abroad and eventually decided to join German side Wolfsburg. Apart from losing their highly-rated manager, the Linzers also had to deal with the blow of Glasner having taken their top scorer Joao Victor to Germany with him. Glasner's successor is Valerien Ismael who, ironically, spent a decent chunk of his previous managerial career in charge of Wolfsburg's reserve team, but also had a stint in charge of their first team. The Linzers have proven apt at bringing in players from lesser sides. They have signed two proven Bundesliga players in Rene Renner and Valentino Muller, while Thomas Sabitzer and David Schnegg join from Erste Liga sides. While keeping the core of their squad together, LASK have not signed a like-for-like replacement for Joao Victor, and this could prove a huge problem, given that they were always built around being solid at the back and need a reliable finisher to convert the few chances that they create. Given how well he has done, Glasner's departure could also be a blow, although it is obviously unreasonable to write Ismael off straight away. What is clear is that, while LASK have done extremely well over the last two years, not many Bundesliga followers will expect them to repeat last year's heroics.

Target


They qualified for Europe in each of the previous two seasons and will be hoping to do so again.

Mattersburg

In


Franz Ponweiser (manager), Fabian Miesenböck (mid) (free), Raphael Behounek (def) (Horn - back from loan)

Out


Klaus Schmidt (manager), Rene Renner (r) (mid) (LASK), Michael Perlak (sp) (mid) (released), Mario Grgic (sp) (mid) (released), Cesar Ortiz (sp) (def) (released), Philipp Prosenik (sp) (att) (FAC)

Mattersburg are coming from a somewhat turbulent season that saw them undergo a controversial early managerial change and spend time fearing relegation, having finished the regular season inside the bottom half. However, the Burgerlanders did rather well in the Relegation Group stage and finished second, meaning that they gave themselves to battle for a European place, but were edged out by Rapid. Klaus Schmidt, who was appointed until the end of the season, opted not to extend his deal, having stated that he made his mind up a month before the end of the season or so. The Burgerlanders have put their former academy manager Franz Ponweiser in charge, with the club's state being that they will monitor the results early in the season and then decide whether to go with Ponweiser on a permanent basis. Mattersburg are among the most stable Bundesliga clubs and it is therefore hardly a surprise that they hardly recorded any ins and outs during the summer. The sole important player to have left is Rene Renner, while the sole signing so far is Fabian Miesenbock. Their summer transfer activity means that their squad is smaller than last season and this is hardly a surprise, given that they had a rather bloated squad last time around and some trimming was in order. While their playing cadre is certainly of sufficient quality for them to stay up, the big question mark over Mattersburg going into the new season is their managerial situation. If Ponsweiser proved good enough or they manage to find an apt permanent manager quickly enough, they should do fine.

Target


As usual, Mattersburg goal will be to stay up and play some of their trademark attacking football in the process.

Rapid Wien

In


Thorsten Schick (mid) (Young Boys), Taxiarchis Fountas (mid) (St. Pölten), Kelvin Arase (att) (Horn - back from loan), Albin Gashi (att) (Horn - back from loan), Denis Bosnjak (mid) (FAC - back from loan), Alex Sobczyk (att) (FAC - back from loan)

Out


Andrija Pavlovic (sp) (att) (APOEL - loan), Boli Bolingoli (r) (def) (Celtic), Deni Alar (sp) (att) (Levski Sofia - loan), Andrei Ivan (sp) (att) (Krasnodar - back from loan), Ivan Mocinic (sp) (mid) (Hartberg - loan)

Rapid had their moments in the 2018/19 season, having made the Austrian Cup final and the knock-out stage of the Europa League. However, they performed well below expectations in the league, having ended up in the Relegation Group and failed to qualify for Europe after losing to Sturm in the play-off final on away goals. Didi Kuhbauer was allowed to stay in charge despite failing to deliver Europe, with the excuse that he had going for him that he took over a third into the season, when plenty of damage was already done under Goran Djuricin. The former St.Polten and Wolfsberger manager has now had the summer to make the squad his own. He has reunited himself with Taxiarchis Fountas, who joins from St.Polten, while the other signing made is Thorsten Shick, a former Sturm player who returns to Austria after a spell with Swiss champions Young Boys. Boli Bolingoli has left after a year of speculation linking him with a move away, while the other players to have left were either reserves or hardly featured at all under Kuhbauer. While the playing squad that Kuhbauer has available is on a similar level to last season, there is little doubt that Rapid have underachieved in the league last time around. They showed signs of improvement in the second half of the campaign and will be expected to build on that momentum.

Target


Qualifying for Europe is a minimum requirement. Their league campaign will be considered a full success only if they manage to finish second.

Red Bull Salzburg

In


Jesse Marsch (manager), Hee-Chan Hwang (att) (HSV - back from loan), Sekou Koita (att) (Wolfsberger - back from loan), Majeed Ashimeru (mid) (St.Gallen - back from loan), Masaya Okugawa (mid) (Holstein Kiel - back from loan), Gideon Mensah (def) (Sturm - back from loan), Asger Sörensen (Jahn Regensburg - back from loan)

Out


Marco Rose (manager), Xaver Schlager (r) (mid) (Wolfsburg), Fredrik Gulbrandsen (r) (att) (Basaksehir), Stefan Lainer (r) (def) (Mönchengladbach), Munas Dabbur (k) (att) (Sevilla), Hannes Wolf (r) (mid) (RB Leipzig), Christoph Leitgeb (sp) (mid) (retired)

It was more of the usual for Salzburg last season, as they won their fifth consecutive domestic title as well as their fourth domestic cup in five seasons. The Red Bulls have seen several key men leave so far during the sumer. Manager Marco Rose and skipper Stefan Lainer have left for Borussia Monchengladbach, while top scorer Munas Dabbur has also left, as well as regulars Xavier Schlager, Hannes Wolf and Fredrik Gulbrandsen. Former New York Red Bulls manager and Leipzig assistant manager Jesse Marsch takes over from Rose, while the Red Bulls are yet to bring in any senior players. While their squad is probably still good enough to win the Bundesliga title, they are extremely unlikely to not bring in anyone major. They will participate in the group stage of the Champions League this season and, having waited for it so long, are rather determined to leave a good impression in the competition and will need reinforcements to do that. While the media keep speculating on who their first major signing will be, the Red Bulls are taking their time and the squad they will have midway through the autumn season will likely be vastly different to the one they will enter the season with. At the moment, they look rather vulnerable, but their squad is unlikely to maintain its current shape for long.

Target


They will be aiming for their sixth consecutive domestic title and a decent European campaign. Despite being certain to bring in new players, this will definitely be a challenging season, given all the changes they have undergone.

St. Polten

In


Alex Schmidt (manager), Ahmet Muhamedbegovic (def) (Amstetten - back from loan), Roope Riski (mid) (Chania Kissamikos - back from loan)

Out


Ranko Popovic (manager), Taxiarchis Fountas (r) (mid) (Rapid), Roko Mislov (r) (mid) (released), Patrick Puchegger (sp) (def) (Amstette - loan)

St.Polten started the 2018/19 season with so much promise, but everything went downhill for them after losing manager Didi Kuhbauer to Rapid. The Wolf Pack accumulated enough points in the early stages of the campaign to still finish inside the top half and qualify for the Championship Group, but were abysmal in the second half of the campaign and failed to qualify for Europe. Ranko Popovic managed to receive a vote of confidence midway through the spring season, but was not allowed to stay up past the summer, with Alex Schmidt coming in to replace him. The Wolf Pack have also lost their arguably standout performer Taxiarchis Fountas, who will once again team up with Kuhbauer at Rapid, while no new signings have been made so far. This will be their fourth consecutive season in the top flight and the previous campaign was by far the best one that they had, with the previous two seeing them finish next-to-bottom and bottom, with the latter finish not resulting in relegation due to administrative reasons. Therefore, the form that St.Polten displayed in the second half of the previous campaign was pretty much in line with their usual level and they have done nothing during the summer that would suggest that this could change.

Target


With the exception of the first third of the previous season, St.Polten played in relegation form in all of the previous three years and likely face another battle against the drop.

Sturm Graz

In


Nestor El Maestro (manager), Thorsten Röcher (mid) (Ingolstadt - loan), Emanuel Sakic (def) (Atromitos Athens), Filipe Ferreira (def) (Nacional - back from loan)

Out


Roman Mahlich (manager), Lukas Grozurek (sp) (att) (Karlsruhe), Sandi Lovric (sp) (mid) (FC Lugano), Gideon Mensah (sp) (def) (Salzburg - back from loan), Arnel Jakupovic (sp) (att) (Empoli - back from loan)

Times have been difficult for Sturm since losing manager Franco Foda midway through the 2017/18 season. His replacement Heiko Vogel did not really impress and was fired midway through the previous season, while Roman Mahlich, who took over, managed to barely deliver a European place, and played some dour football in the process. The Grazers eventually opted for another managerial change, with their new boss being Nestor El Maestro, who was most recently in charge of CSKA Sofia and likes to play an attacking-minded brand of football, which is in line with Sturm's philosophy as a club. The Grazers' playing squad has not changed too much over the summer. Former Mattersburg man Thorsten Rocher joins on loan from Ingolstadt in their most eye-catching transfer of the summer so far, while no regulars have left the club. The playing squad is therefore pretty much the same as it was last time around. Most will agree that the Grazers underperformed last season, with their fans particularly frustrated with the number of games in which the side did not look like scoring despite having enough quality to do better in the final third. The big question surrounding Sturm going into the new season is therefore whether their new manager will get them to play the attacking-minded brand of football that they normally do and improve their overall attacking play.

Target


After an underwhelming campaign last time around, they will be hoping for a top three finish and will want to play better football along the way.

WSG Swarovski Tirol

In


Florian Buchacher (def) (Wacker), Julian Gölles (def) (SC Wiener Neustadt), Zlatko Dedic (att) (Wacker), Stefan Hager (def) (SC Wiener Neustadt), Florian Rieder (mid) (Wacker), Lukas Grgic (mid) (SV Ried)

Out


Sinan Kurt (sp) (mid) (released), Andreas Dober (sp) (def) (Siegendorf), Oliver Filip (sp) (mid) (Sturm - back from loan), Alhassane Soumah (sp) (att) (Juventus - back from loan)

WSG Swarowski Tirol are set to participate in the Bundesliga for the first time in their history and are going toe-to-toe with Hartberg for the title of the smallest club in the big league. Apart from a period during which they were merged with Wacker Tirol (now Innsbruck), they have spent the majority of their history in the Austrian lower leagues, but the increased financial backing they have received over the recent years has allowed them to move up the leagues and qualify for the top flight after three seasons in the second tier. They are in a healthy financial situation and therefore have no problems attracting midtable-level Bundesliga players. They already have several proven Bundesliga players in their squad, but have also managed to attract a proven striker in Zlatko Dedic during the summer; while making several other promising signings from Erste Liga teams. WSG's ground currently does not meet the Bundesliga regulations and is being restructured. In the meantime, they will play their home games at Wacker Innsbruck's Tivoli stadium. Judging chances of newly-promoted sides is always tough, but WSG have a decent core of the squad and the ability to bring in more signings if things do not go well. They therefore look well equipped to survive in the top flight.

Target


With this being their first-ever season in the top flight, they will be pleased as long as they manage to survive.