Liverpool will add another name to their extensive list of European opponents on Thursday when they face LASK Linz of Austria for the first time in their Europa League opener.
Reds fans could be forgiven for not having an encyclopedic knowledge of Thomas Sageder’s side, with Jurgen Klopp and co having been more acclimatised to coming up against the continent’s leading lights in the Champions League over the past six seasons.
We’re confident that the LFC manager and his coaching staff have done their homework on the team they’ll be facing tomorrow, and if you’re looking to find out a little bit more about our upcoming opponents, you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s have a look at some of the men who’ll likely play a key role for LASK, along with their form guide and other snippets of information you ought to know about the Austrian outfit.
Key players for LASK
The 31-year-old club captain has struck five goals in his first 10 matches in all competitions this term, in additing to supplying four assists (Transfermarkt) in leading from the front by example.
He’s nearly halfway to matching his tally from the entirety of last term (Transfermarkt) and has already taken 20 shots in the current Bundesliga campaign, more than twice as many as any of his teammates (FBref).
LASK effectively owe their participation in the group stage to the forward – were it not for his double against Zrinjski in the play-off, they would’ve been eliminated and the Bosnian side would’ve progressed to this stage.
The 6 foot 2 centre-back offers no little goal threat, already finding the net three times in his first 10 matches of the season (Transfermarkt), so he could definitely be dangerous from any set piece opportunities the Austrians get on Thursday.
The 30-year-old is a powerhouse in both penalty areas, leading the charts for interceptions at LASK with 17 in the Bundesliga so far this term (FBref), marking him out as an uncompromising defender with an astute reading of the play.
The defensive midfielder has been an all-action presence in the engine room for his side, drawing more fouls (16) and putting in more crosses (30) than any of his teammates, along with recording 12 interceptions (FBref).
The 27-year-old hasn’t scored yet this term but, not unlike Trent Alexander-Arnold, is adept at creating chances from deep, with three assists to his name in the early weeks of the campaign. Indeed, he’s set up goals in both of LASK’s two most recent matches (Transfermarkt).
LASK’s form so far this season
Just like Liverpool, LASK go into tomorrow’s game off the back of some impressive domestic form, winning four of their last five matches as they quickly put a slow start to the Bundesliga campaign behind them.
To be fair, their opening two games were against some of the Austrian top flight’s stronger opposition, drawing against Rapid Vienna and losing away to Sturm Graz, before taking 13 points from the next possible 15 against team who, with all due respect, they would’ve been expecting to beat.
Their next three domestic fixtures also look winnable before a daunting trip to champions Red Bull Salzburg on 21 October.
LASK in Europe
Although LASK mightn’t quite be a household name to most football fans in England, this is their fifth season out of six in which they’ve competed in Europe, the one aberration between last term.
Their best performance came in 2019/20 when they reached the last 16 of the Europa League, topping their group ahead of Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg before being thrashed 7-1 on aggregate by Manchester United. Their two games against the Red Devils took place five months apart, either side of the COVID pandemic grinding football (and much of the world) to a halt.
They were in the Europa League again the following season, having thrashed Sporting in the play-off round, but failed to make it out of their group despite a memorable 3-3 draw against Tottenham.
They partook in the inaugural Europa Conference League in 2021/22, reaching the round of 16 before losing out to Slavia Prague 7-5 on aggregate.