LIVE STREAM & PREVIEW Austrian Bowl XXXI: Vienna Vikings face Swarco Raiders for Third Year in a Row

The battle of the heavyweights continues in Austria and the third and last round for 2015 takes place tonight in Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria as the defending champion Vienna Vikings take on the Swarco Raiders for the fifth year in a row in the Austrian Bowl.

The Vikings have won the last two Austrian Bowls against Swarco while the Raiders won in 2011. Vienna finished first in the Austrian regular season after losing only one game – to the Raiders – but comfortably in the lead throughout the year.

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The Vikings have had a steady season this year after starting with a win over the Raiders in the season opener. The only hiccup in league play was the loss to the RaidersSwarco on the other hand came out of the gate and stumbled, losing their first two in the Austrian league, first to Vienna and then to Danube. Since then they have gathered momentum and apart from a last minute defeat at the hands of the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in Big6 play, they have been unstoppable.

Vienna did not fare well in the Big6 although they beat a weak Berlin Adler team. They were trounced by the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns leaving some doubt as to how good they really are. But they rebounded and despite the loss to Swarco they finished the season strong and are healthy going into the final.

Head coach Shuan Fatah’s Raiders have had a long season and will be playing in there 17th game tonight. In addition to the Austrian league, Swarco has played two Big 6 contests and another four games in the Battle4Tirol series of games. Although they added a couple of more imports for those six games, the core of the team has undergone a grueling season.

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Although the Vikings have played four fewer games, their 12 games have made a long season as well. Quarterback Alexander Thury has been steady but finished third in overall passing yardage with 1,934 on 145 completions and 19 touchdowns. His counterpart with the Raiders, Sean Shelton played in six of the 10 games recording 1,691 yards  touchdowns. Teammate Kyle Callahan played in the other four regular season games.

Vienna’s Stefan Postel finished fourth in the regular season with 47 receptions for 650 yards while Swarco’s Clemens Erlsbacher had 592 yards on 29 catches, good for fifth. The key may be the ground game as Islaam Amadu of the Vikings led the league with 726 yards in rushing while  Swarco’s Fabien-Andre Gärtner was far behind with 367 total rushing yards.

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In the head-to-head matchups this year, Thury had an outstanding day throwing in the first meeting, a win for Vienna, with 326 yards passing for three touchdowns while Shelton was good for 250 yards and three tallies as well. However, in the second game that Swarco won, Shelton threw for 233 yards and two scores while Thury dropped off to 166 yards.

Stefan Postel has been the top receiver over the two head-to-head games while Islaam Amadu leads all rushers. However, the Raiders have a committee of receivers and Shelton can get the ball to them.

This game will come down to coaching and quarterback play as Vienna has the best defense in the league followed closely by the Raiders.

This game is a toss up.

Kickoff: 7 PM (1 PM EDT) Here is the link to the livestream.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.