Leipzig Kings travel to Tirol Raiders with season on the line for both teams

The Leipzig Kings will travel down to Austria today to take on the Tirol Raiders as both teams look to continue their respective winning streaks in the European League of Football (ELF).

For the Raiders, the season began glumly. After the loss to the team they beat in the 2021 Austrian Bowl, the Vienna Vikings, as well as to the Cologne Centurions, the Raiders entry into the ELF looked badly timed.

The season started no better for the Kings either as losses to the Wroclaw Panthers, Rhein Fire and Hamburg Sea Devils left Leipzig with a pitiful 0-3 record; a record the team was hardly deserving of with such a stacked roster and excellent head coach in Fred Armstrong.

But since their initial defeats, both teams have reeled off a series of impressive wins. This, combined with the close score lines in those first three games, shows two teams who are underrepresented in their standings.

One of the major keys to the Raiders’ recent success has been quarterback Sean Shelton who has quickly risen up the ranks and now runs the league’s most productive offense, averaging 387 yards per game. 

This incremental success has been in part due to a developing relationship between Shelton and one of the league’s top receivers, Philip Huan. The possession receiver came over to the Raiders from the Danube Dragons during the off season and has been a nightmare for defenders since joining.

In contrast, the Kings’ success lies in its defense. The all-star defense includes names such as Aslan Zetterberg, Jan-Phillip Bombek, AJ Wentland, William James and Roedion Henrique, to name a few; all considered top players in their positions in the league.

It is in addition to this, their long, rangy receivers, Anthony Dabke-Wolf and Seantavius Jones, have caused mismatches in secondaries. With the appointment of former Parma Panthers head coach Mark Mattioli, widely considered to be one of Europe’s best coaches, as receivers coach, the offense will no doubt make great strides in the coming weeks.

For both the Kings and the Raiders this game will stand as a crucial tipping point in the season. The winner will likely make the playoffs while the loser will be chasing odds for the rest of the season.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.