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Preview of the Cup fight in Graz

Austria kick off their spring campaign on Friday at 20:30 (live on ORF1 and in the Viola Sportsbar) in the quarter-finals of the UNIQA ÖFB Cup against defending champions Sturm Graz. Coach Michael Wimmer and sporting director Manuel Ortlechner give an outlook on the clash for a place in the semi-finals.


In the ADMIRAL Bundesliga, there were two encounters with Sturm in the autumn, with the Violets being beaten 3-0 at home in the first round and Austria celebrating a 1-0 victory away from home in the last meeting in Graz. Christian Ilzer's team are clearly ahead of us in the table, with the Styrians collecting 37 points in the first 17 rounds and are only two points behind FC Red Bull Salzburg in second place. Sturm are also the only Austrian team still represented internationally, where they will play Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Europa Conference League next week.

Coach Michael Wimmer: "The 1-0 win in Graz in the autumn is good for our self-confidence, because we saw that we can also spring a surprise against a big favourite if we rise above ourselves and perform at our best as a team. I'm of the opinion that we're in good shape. We've only lost one of our last 17 games, including test matches, and we've won ten of them. That's why we're travelling to Graz with confidence, but we know that a huge challenge awaits us. We will throw everything into it and hope that we can put up a great fight. It's about making it to the semi-finals - we'll give it our all."

Sporting director Manuel Ortlechner: "Of course I hope that we can spring a surprise in Graz. We've proven in the recent past that we can be really unpleasant in Graz and can win. I'm really looking forward to the game. We can expect a cup quarter-final with a great atmosphere. Our fans have filled the visitors' section in record time - that makes us really happy. I'm also of the opinion that the team is in good form. The Bundesliga starts a week later - we still want to get into the championship group - of course we're in the hunter's role and it won't be easy, but I'm very positive about the spring."

Personnel news

In addition to the long-term injuries to Ziad El Sheiwi, Florian Wustinger and Marko Raguž, Fisnik Asllani (torn tendon in the sole of his foot) and Christian Früchtl (inner ligament injury in his knee) will also be out injured for the next few weeks: "We know that Chris has played an outstanding autumn. But our cup goalkeeper would have been Mirko anyway - he's always done his job well when he's played. I'm convinced that he'll also do an outstanding job in Graz on Friday. Of course we hope that Chris will be fit again as soon as possible," says coach Michael Wimmer.