LASK: All You Need To Know About Man Utd’s Europa League Round of 16 Opponents

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LASK
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Well, that couldn’t have gone much better for Manchester United fans.

But should we be so quick to dispel the Austrian Bundesliga side (not that you knew they were even Austrian in the first place) as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men get ready to face the club in the Europa League round of 16? Maybe we shouldn’t be.

Whether or not they’ll provide the upset of the round is a matter for later, but in the meantime, here’s all you need to know about LASK.

What Does LASK Mean?

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Let’s address the elephant in the room first, because, you’re all thinking to yourself, ‘that can’t be the actual name of the team, right?’.

Correct you are. ‘LASK’ is short for Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub – a name with enough hyphens to play for Liverpool – which, as you’ll have gathered, is German for something football-related.

Moving on.

How Did They Get Here?

The Europa League group stages pitted them off with Sporting CP, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg, a group that, by their previous European standards, was a difficult one to navigate through.

Yet, their only defeat during their six group clashes would come away at Sporting, where a certain Bruno Fernandes would net the winner to secure a 2-1 win. Other than that, they won four and drew one of their matches to impressively finish top of the pile.

That prompted a round of 32 showdown with AZ Alkmaar. Heading to the Netherlands for the first leg, the Austrian outfit recorded twice as many shots as the hosts – this despite recording just 37% possession – and were only undone by an 86th-minute penalty to secure a commendable 1-1 draw.

Fast forward one week and we’re now looking at ​United’s future opponents, after Marko Raguz’s brace handed LASK a 3-1 aggregate win to etch new history into the club’s record books – with a trip to Old Trafford their just reward.

European History

Indeed, the reason for LASK being relatively unknown outside of their native Austria is because this is their first venture into the Europa League round of 16 in the club’s 111-year history.

LASK v FC Bruegge - UEFA Champions League Playoff

Their most successful European campaign came during the 1984/85 and 1985/86 seasons, where they reached the second round of the UEFA Cup. They’ve been in ​Champions League contention before but lost out in the playoff stages to Club Brugge, which is why they’re in this season’s Europa League.

They briefly dabbled with the UEFA Intertoto Cup in the mid-90s, with their best finish being semi-finals stage where they were humbled 7-2 on aggregate by Rotor Volgograd – remember them? Peter Schmeichel scored against them once.

Players to Watch

Marko Raguz – For someone who hasn’t been especially prolific in the league this season, Raguz has found comfort in this season’s Europa League. The most pivotal of his five goals came during the knockout clash with AZ Alkmaar, and the 21-year-old striker will be one of the stars United will be keeping tabs on when the sides clash.

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Gernot Trauner – Much of LASK’s success this term has been built on a solid defensive unit, with the club conceding just 19 goals in their 20 league matches as well just five in their seven Europa League matches to date. Much of that can be credited to their club captain Trauner, who has been a rock in the heart of defence this campaign. 

Dominik Frieser – The winger has been one of the standout performers for LASK this season, netting five goals in the league with a further three assists in just 19 outings. He’s been instrumental in the club’s surge to the top of the Bundesliga table, with his pace and strength in wide areas key to their success. 

Thomas Goiginger – One the other flank, Goiginger is cut from similar cloth, with the solid technical ability to match his forward partner. He’s also chipped in with goals and assists this season but is very much your typical winger who loves to get down the byline and swing crosses into the box.

What Can Manchester United Expect?

Since appointing Valérien Ismaël for the start of the 2019/20 season, the former Bayern Munich centre-back has begun putting his stamp on the club’s style of play.

LASK v AZ Alkmaar - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg

He’s implemented a 3-4-3 setup, with his defensive know-how being used to full effect. LASK is now an organised, well-drilled unit that likes to utilise defensive stability as the backdrop from which to build attacks, primarily down the flanks.

Employing wingers in his setup, he enjoys playing an expansive brand of football, where the wide midfielders can operate as both backup for the wingers, as well as cover for the full-backs if needed.

No team boasts a better defensive record than LASK in the league this season, with their lowly 19 goals conceded in 20 outings testament to the fine work of Ismaël.

Furthermore, what is interesting about their squad this season has been lack of one out-and-out goal machine. Sitting atop the Austrian Bundesliga, they’ve done so by sharing the goals among the squad, with no player registering higher than five league goals out of their overall tally of 44. 

LASK v Spusu SKN St. Poelten - tipico Bundesliga

They’re top of the league for a reason, which is especially impressive given the performances of Red Bull Salzburg this term, so to discount them from the tie already would be premature.

Furthermore, what is interesting about their squad this season has been lack of one out-and-out goal machine. Sitting atop the Austrian Bundesliga, they’ve done so by sharing the goals among the squad, with no player registering higher than five league goals out of their overall tally of 44. 

They’re top of the league for a reason, which is especially impressive given the performances of Red Bull Salzburg this term, so to discount them from the tie already would be premature.

See Also: Premier League Announces Plans To Launch Hall Of Fame

source: 90min

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