The 2020/21 Premier League fixture list has been released, with the season kicking off on September 12th. As with the...
Even the most well-informed European football aficionado would be hard-pressed to give you a load of insight into Manchester United’s next opponents in the Europa League - Austrian side LASK.
But after a bit of research, we’re pleased to bring you everything you need to know, and plenty you don’t need to know. So buckle up, and here we go…
LASK finished runners-up in the Austrian Bundesliga last season to qualify for the Champions League qualifying stages, in which they were knocked out by Club Bruges, Manchester United’s victims in the last round of the Europa League. But they are not a team to be taken lightly - they’re currently top of their domestic league, above Red Bull Salzburg, who scored 3 times at Anfield in this year’s Champions League.
Just eight years ago, LASK was on the edge of extinction, relegated to the bottom division of Austrian football, and facing bankruptcy. But a consortium of local businessmen took control of the club, and after a few years of consolidation they had returned to the top flight, finishing 4th the first year, second the next year, and potentially top this year.
Compared to Salzburg, who of course had Erling Haaland in their team until relatively recently, LASK are not prolific in front of goal. This season they have managed 49 in 21 games, compared to Salzburg’s 72 - but they have won four and drawn one of their last 5 games, compared with Salzburg’s one win, two draws and two losses. LASK’s top scorer is a Brazilian by the name of Klauss - who is on loan from Hoffenheim, and has 9 goals. But they topped their Europa League group, beating Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg, so it would be foolish to write them off.
LASK play their home games at two different stadiums - which hopefully won’t confuse the 600 or so Manchester United fans who will get tickets for the away leg. Their league games are played at the Waldstadion in Pasching, but the European games are held at the slightly bigger Linzer Stadion in Linz.
Linz itself is a picturesque city on a bend in the River Danube, known for the Linzer Torte, said to be the oldest known cake in the world, dating back to the 17th century. It is also a former European City of Culture, and boasts several museums and creative events to keep tourists occupied.
Manchester United travel to Austria for the first leg on the 12th March, before the return fixture the following week at Old Trafford.
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