Blog by: Ahmed
The draw for the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League group stage has been conducted; the group(s) of death have been dissected and analysed, and important match dates have now been circled in fan diaries.
We know that Arsenal will have a tough time, we know that Milan and Barcelona will lock horns yet again and that Manchester City have what is possibly their best chance to finally make it to the knockout stages.
Amidst all the talk about the ‘big’ clubs, we fail to notice that a ‘small’ club is making its debut in the Champions League group stages (in its present format) this year – FK Austria Wien (FKA).
They are based in the capital Vienna (Wien in German) and are traditionally one of Austria’s successful sides, having won 24 Austrian Bundesliga titles and 27 Austrian Cups. FKA have two major European success stories to tell : appearances at the 1978 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final where they lost to Belgium’s Anderlecht, and the 1978-79 European Cup semi-final, where they were defeated by eventual runners-up Malmo of Sweden.
In 1982-83, FKA reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup, defeating Barcelona on away goals in the quarter-finals. However, they were defeated by Real Madrid 3-5 on aggregate.
In the two decades since the restructuring of the Champions League, FKA have struggled hard but failed to make it to the group stages. They made it to the second round of the preliminary stage in 1993 and 1994 but lost out on both occasions. They have, however, qualified for the UEFA Cup/Europa League group stages numerous times and made it to the quarter-finals in 2004-05.
After Thursday’s draw in Monaco, FKA find themselves in Group G, alongside former champions Porto, Atletico Madrid and Zenit St.Petersburg. Here’s a little info about for you to know more about Die Veilchen (The Violets) :
Founded in 1911 as Wiener Amateur Sportvereinigung (Vienna Amateur Sporting Association) by members of the Vienna Cricket and Football Club, the ‘amateur’ in the name was dropped and ‘Austria’ added in its place after the players turned professional in 1926.
The name ‘Austria’ had great significance after the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938; despite Nazi pressure to change it, the club managed to keep it intact in a sign of Austrian defiance. The club was named FK Austria Memphis Magna after the takeover by billionaire Frank Stronach in 1999. The name was changed to the current one in 2008.
The Franz Horr stadium, located in Favoriten in southern Vienna, is FKA’s home stadium. The stadium, which was built in 1925, was named after the late president of the Vienna Football Association in 1973. For sponsorship reasons, it is known as Generali Arena. Originally able to seat 10,850 fans, the reconstruction of the East Stand in 2008 has increased capacity to 13,400.
The Wien Derby
The Wien Derby, is played between Austria Wien and Rapid Wien, who are Austria’s most successful sides. Historically there has been a class divide between these two clubs, as Rapid represented Vienna’s working class while Austria catered to the middle and upper class.
This divide is not so evident today, but the rivalry still exists with the divide seen more on a geographical basis. After the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic broke up due to Rangers’ demotion, the Wien Derby is now Europe’s most-played derby. This is mainly due to the round-robin system of the Austria Bundesliga, where teams play each other four times every season.
Although Rapid has had a slight edge in the derby’s history, FKA can claim to have had their fair share of good memories from the game too, especially in recent times. Rapid have not been able to defeat FKA in the last ten fixtures.
The historical icon
Without a shred of a doubt, FK Austria Wien’s all-time icon and legend has to be Matthias Sindelar. Voted in 1998 as Austria’s greatest ever footballer, Sindelar starred for FKA in the 1930s, a period in which the side won the Mitropa Cup twice. Sindelar was adored as the Mozart of football and Der Papierene or the Paperman for his slight build and ability to slip and squeeze through defences.
Sindelar was part of Hugo Miesl’s legendary Wunderteam (Austrian national team) and captained the team at the 1934 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Although Austria finished fourth, Sindelar was adjudged the second-best player at the World Cup. Legend has it that “some Viennese football fans went to Sindelar’s games not only to see him play but to get a better understanding of how football should be played.” Sindelar, who died in 1939 in mysterious circumstances, also had a stint as manager of his beloved club.
The current icon
24-year-old Austrian striker Philipp Hosiner scored 32 goals in the league last year, in what was his debut season for FKA. Everton and Celtic have reportedly been eyeing him. Fans will look to Hosiner to provide the firepower as FKA hope to make a mark at Europe’s premier club event.
Road to the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League group stage
Won the 2012-13 Austrian Bundesliga to qualify for the third qualifying round of 2013-14 Champions League.
Third Qualifying Round: Defeated FH of Iceland 1-0 on aggregate.
Play-off Round: Defeated Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 on aggregate.