Season In Review: 2018/19
As the curtains are drawn on the 2018/19 season, the 12 Bundesliga teams that will contest the 2019/20 edition of the competition have begun their preparations for the new campaign. With the fixtures for the new season released in a matter of days, bundesliga.at takes a look back at the 2018-19 Bundesliga campaign; the winners, the losers and those who will hope to enjoy European success next season.
The Title Race And The Hunt For Europe
In possibly the most competitive title race in the Bundesliga for some time now, defending Champions Red Bull Salzburg did go on to retain their title and win the Crown for the sixth successive season. Despite an opening day defeat to Rapid Wien, Salzburg went on to record a ten match unbeaten run between August and November which saw them establish themselves as title challengers. Austria Wien and Sturm Graz had started the season extremely well and were establishing themselves as title contenders. By the end of November, Austria Wien were top of the table by a solitary point from Sturm Graz, with Salzburg being sat 8 points behind leaders Austria after 15 games. Wacker Innsbruck who had only won promotion from the Erste Liga the season before, were sat in third, just six points behind Austria Wien, hoping that they could continue their fine form and make their own run for the league title.
Salzburg though were showing that they would continue to be a presence in the bid for the title, and, after a 2-1 defeat to Wacker Innsbruck at the beginning of November, went on another unbeaten run of 11 games to really bring themselves into the title equation. They beat Austria Wien 2-1 at the Generali Arena and Sturm Graz at the Merkur Arena meaning that by the time Matchday 22 was over and the initial stages of the campaign were finalised, Salzburg sat two points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table. Austria Wien were second on 46 points, Sturm Graz third on 42, whilst Wacker Innsbruck had slipped to fifth as Rapid Wien had recovered from their own shaky start to bring themselves firmly back into European contention. Meanwhile with the league being split into the Champions Play Off and the Relegation Play Off, it was St. Polten who propped up the top half of the table, leapfrogging LASK Linz on Matchday 22.
Heading into the final ten games of the season, Salzburg went on to win five of their ten games to ensure they won the Bundesliga title by 6 points clear. Austria Wien, who had stuttered and endured a terrible run of form of 8 Bundesliga games without a win between March and April, managed to win four of their remaining five games and ensure a second placed finish and a Champions League berth. Meanwhile Sturm Graz and Rapid Wien, who had benefited from the 50% points reduction at the beginning of the Champions Play Off, were unable to launch full attacks on the title race and finished the season in third and fourth, with Sturm Graz qualifying for the Group Stages of the Europa League and Rapid Wien entering the competition in the Third Qualifying Round. Wacker Innsbruck finished fifth with St. Polten in sixth, meaning both sides moved into the European Play Off with the side that finished top of the Relegation Play Off but more on that later.
The Bid To Avoid The Drop
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Admira Wacker couldn’t have wished for a worse start to their league campaign. Having qualified for the Europa League in the season before, they had European distractions but by the time September rolled into October they sat bottom of the table, having picked up only three points from three draws. They had suffered six defeats from their first nine games and were staring relegation in the face. Just two points above them though were Rheindorf Altach who had only five points, although having beaten Wolfsberger on the opening day of the season they had a solitary victory to their name. LASK Linz had started the season steadily and had acquired 13 points after nine games, but there were just two points separating Mattersburg in 7th and St. Polten in 10th. Sitting in 8th and 9th were Wolfsberger and Hartberg respectively with all the sides worried that it could be a long season in the battle to stave off relegation.
However by the time November rolled around and 15 games had been played, Admira Wacker had revived their form enough to have picked up three wins and move away from the relegation places, with Wolfsberger and Hartberg sliding down the table with the latter now occupying the final relegation places. Mattersburg had closed the gap on 6th placed LASK Linz to just two points with Linz starting to fade away after a positive start to the season where they had looked to be challenging for Europe. LASK’s stuttering form ended up costing them come March and Matchday 22 as they slipped in to 7th position, however they were still 13 points clear of bottom placed Hartberg. Wolfsberger were left looking over their shoulders with ten games left as were Admira Wacker, although their three point lead over Hartberg gave them slightly more breathing space.
LASK continued to struggle heading into the relegation play off after the league was split in two, and as a result of their poor form they moved down to eight, with Rheindorf Altach shooting up the table with some fine form in the final ten games, to seal a place in the European Play Off against Wacker Innsbruck and St. Polten. Admira Wacker did just enough to seal their place in next season’s Bundesliga, finishing four points clear of the relegation place. But for Mattersburg and Wolfsberger it was a huge sigh of belief as they avoided the drop on goal difference, with Hartberg facing the drop and the prospect of a season in the Erste Liga next season.
The European Play Off
Having managed to finish 7th in the Relegation Play Off table, Rheindorf Altach secured their chance, the final chance to clinch European football, where they came up against Wacker Innsbruck and St. Polten. Rheindorf Altach went on to meet St. Polten in the semi final, securing a 3-2 victory over the side who finished sixth in the Champions Play Off. Then after a few days rest, Rheindorf Altach faced off with Wacker Innsbruck, winning 1-0 in the final, to seal what will likely be a memorable European campaign next season.
Who Will Replace Hartberg?
After a long and arduous Erste Liga campaign, it was Floridsdorfer who secured their place in the 2019/20 Bundesliga beating WSG Wattens to the Erste Liga title by a solitary point. It will be Floridsdorfer’s first campaign in the top flight for over 50 years, and they will be desperate to make an impact in the league next season.
CommentsScottT: A fantastic season indeed, it could have been better for sure but like Steegmann has said it was a huge learning curve and one we will definitely learn from and hopefully make amends for next season. The games in Europe will be entertaining for sure but I know we’re capable of getting through them and reaching the promised lands of the Champions League.
Jack: Just a European regular would be an incredible achievement, not only because it would give us a lot more cash and would help the club develop in terms of its financial size and the players we can bring in.
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