Opposition guide: LASK
Manchester United’s UEFA Europa League campaign resumes on Wednesday, when we host LASK in the second leg of our last-16 tie.
It’ll be a whopping 146 days since the Reds emerged 5-0 winners in Austria, in what was our last match before the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.
Plenty has happened in that time, so get the latest on our Old Trafford opponents with our in-depth guide…
LASK, who are the lowest-ranked side remaining in the competition according to UEFA’s club coefficients, will be without their leading goalscorer Klauss for their trip to England. The Brazilian has returned to parent club Hoffenheim in Germany, after netting 20 times in 45 games for the Austrians. Fellow forward Samuel Tetteh has also been recalled, by Red Bull Salzburg, leaving LASK with just two of the four attackers they’ve relied on this season. The Linz side are boosted by the return of defenders Philipp Wiesinger and Petar Filipovic, however – the pair missed out on the first leg through suspension. Thomas Goiginger and Marvin Potzmann were both absent for the game in March with cruciate ligament injuries and have yet to recover.
The Black-Whites, who were bidding to win their first title since 1965 at the time of our last meeting, led the Austrian Bundesliga going into lockdown but were docked six points, reduced to four on appeal, in May for breaking coronavirus training protocols – an episode which caused great controversy in Austria. This meant they went into the 10-game Championship round behind reigning champions Red Bull Salzburg and ultimately they couldn’t keep up the pace on the pitch – winning just three and losing six of their fixtures post-restart to end up fourth in the final standings. While this was enough to secure a place in next season’s Europa League qualifying rounds, the disappointing run ultimately cost coach Valerien Ismael his job.
OUR RECORD V AUSTRIAN CLUBS
United’s convincing 5-0 victory over LASK at the Linzer Stadion in March marked the first time we’d ever met the Black-Whites in a competitive fixture and Wednesday’s match will be the Austrians’ maiden trip to the Theatre of Dreams. We’ve previously hosted two of LASK’s domestic opponents at Old Trafford, however, with Rapid Vienna (1969 and 1996) and Sturm Graz (1999 and 2001) each visiting M16 twice, in the European Cup/Champions League. United have won each of those four meetings by an aggregate score of 10-1, with a 3-0 win over Graz courtesy of goals from Nicky Butt, Teddy Sheringham and Roy Keane the last such clash.
Ismael’s departure, announced shortly after a 3-0 home defeat to title-winners Red Bull Salzburg brought the curtain down on LASK’s domestic campaign on 5 July, paved the way for Dominik Thalhammer to take charge in Linz. The 49-year-old spent the last nine years in charge of Austria’s women’s team, guiding them to the semi-finals of Euro 2017 in their first appearance at a major tournament finals. “LASK is a huge opportunity for me that, as a returning Linz man, I couldn’t turn down,” said Thalhammer, a former LASK assistant coach, at his unveiling. “I’m absolutely convinced of this project.” Wednesday’s match at Old Trafford will therefore be Thalhammer’s first in charge of his hometown club.
ONE TO WATCH
In the absence of Klauss, the Black-Whites will be looking to young forward Marko Raguz to provide the spark in attack. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a fine breakthrough campaign, netting 13 goals in all competitions – including five in the Europa League alone, putting him just one behind a group of six players leading the tournament’s scoring charts. Raguz will be relying on the creative ability of midfielder Peter Michorl to find the net in Manchester. The Viennese-born playmaker provided 11 league assists in 2019/20 and since joining LASK in 2014 has made his name as something of a set-piece specialist.
We are all United! Get behind the Reds! On sale now, get the new Adidas training kit.