Austria Wien is aiming for a victory in the last game of the basic round. ‘It will be important to beat St. Pölten on Saturday. Then we would have an odd number of points and after the points are divided, we would be ranked first in the event of a tie - this is certainly not a mental disadvantage,’ says Grünwald, who expects the team at the bottom of the table with a chain of five defenders:
‘This barrier has to be cracked. It would be good if we succeeded in the first half and take an early lead, then St. Pölten has to open up more.’
A week later, the first of ten games in the qualification group will be held at home against Admira, ‘We want to win this group. I think we have seen a positive development in the past weeks and months and have gained some stability. We made up for a total of four goals against Altach and Salzburg, I think we would have lost these two games in autumn. Now is the time to take the next step: we have to win more games.’
Austria Wien has been unbeaten for eight rounds, but in the last five games the “Violets” have had to make do with draws. ‘There are no easy games in the qualification group either, it will be important to win the first two or three games in order to gain a bigger lead in the group,’ says Grünwald.
Alex Grünwald watched the 1-1 draw against Sturm Graz from the stands due to his yellow card suspension, ‘In the phase after the 1-0 we were really good but didn't put the lid on. Judging the whole game, the draw was fair.’
Why does the team only perform well in some phases and not over the full 90 minutes? ‘If we could explain that, we would have changed it long ago. But I think it already got better - one reason for the improvement could be that we now have fewer injuries than during the fall and the coach can react during the game,’ answers the long-time "Violet".
Since the 16th round, Alex Grünwald has no longer played in his traditional position, but a little more defensively in central midfield in Christian Ilzer's 4-2-3-1 system. ‘I now have more ball contact and less pressure in the back, but I'm further away from the goal - both positions have advantages and disadvantages. In my more defensive role, it is important that I give the team stability, move the game forward, and be ready to finish from the second row,’ says the captain.
Most recently, he played on his new position in the home game against RB Salzburg together with the 20-year-old Alexandar Borkovic. The debut of his teammate, who was also trained at the Austria Wien Academy and had never been in the defensive midfield before, is positive, ‘Borkovic has all the qualities to do well in this position. He has already noticed that it is more intense than in central defence, but I think we did well against Salzburg.’