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RAIFFEISEN VIENNA VIKINGS V. DRESDEN MONARCHS

The Dresden Monarchs travel on Sunday to Vienna to play the reigning Eurobowl Champions, the Raiffeisen Vikings. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. CET, 9 a.m. EST at Hohe Warte Stadium.

With Braunschweig beating Dresden (17-10) and Vienna beating Braunschweig (14-13), Vikings control their destiny: if they win they are in and earn a chance to defend their Eurobowl title. However, if they lose they are out.

Now if Dresden wins, it is not that easy, …it is actually a headache. Hang in there and try to follow me:

  • If Dresden win by 14 points or more, they qualify
  • If Dresden wins by 12 points or less, it is Braunschweig who qualifies
  • If Dresden wins by 13 points, then it is tie breaker, so you have to take the most points scored, but if it is another tie, then you have to take the points allowed

So, long story short, if the final score in Vienna is 20-07 for Dresden, we will have a coin toss to decide who goes to Eurobowl finale. And you thought European American Football was easy, didn’t you?

After a rough start and two losses against two very good teams (Kiel and Braunschweig), the Monarchs bounced back with two consecutive wins, particularly in their last game against the Berlin Adler (in a mud fest). Dresden is led by new Head Coach John Leijten (a former LB coach for Amsterdan Admirals in NFL Europe).

Offensively, watch out for the best American RB in Europe, #4 Trevar Deed. Last season in the GFL (17 games), he ran for a staggering 3,623 yards and 53 touchdowns! That is 213 yards per game and 9.3 yards per carry! In big games, the Monarchs are not scared to feed him the ball 40 times. After 4 games this season, he is averaging “only” 160 yards per game behind national team FB #44 Ivo Schönbernet and a monster offensive line. You can not miss Polish LT #72 Babatunde Aiyegbusi, who stands at 2.08 meters (6’8″) and 155 kilos (340 lbs)! But if you think Dresden is just a running team then you make a big time mistake. Veteran American QB #12 Jeff Welsh is one of the best pocket passers in Europe and he has two quality wide receivers in Frenchman #11 Guillaume Rioux and German national player #80 Jan Hilgenfeldt (who burned the Vikings DBs for 124 yards last week with Team Germany).

Monarchs use up to seven imports on defense, Australian, Swiss, Polish, French, American, it is getting hard to keep track. It will for sure not sit really well with the Austrian medias and Vikings fans, but it is part of the game at the European level and it is de facto a solid unit. American LB #2 Vercher Sherman anchors the front seven and Frenchman DB #24 Sébastien Sejean patrols the deep middle field.

It has been a difficult season for the Wikinger, after their dream undefeated season last year, with the retirement of a few key players and a lots of injuries. Back to back losses against Innsbruck and Graz, made some people wonder if the Vikings are still on top of their game. But they are standing, fighting and don’t count them out.

Offense is led by QB #8 Chris Gross needs to find his magic again. Ex-Florida Gators RB #1 Emmanuel Moody has been a force when healthy. No doubt the long break was beneficial for him. But the loss of team captain LT #79 Valentin Gruber against Braunschweig has been a disaster for the Vikes OL. WR #6 Laurinho Walcho will challenge the German defensive backfield with his speed and 2 meters tall (6’5″) TE #11 Manuel Thaller has been a really nice surprise this season.

Vikings defense has been a force for many years, especially against the run. It will be a very interesting match up against the Dresden powerful running game. They have to make them to be one dimensional.

One key of the game might be how mentally rested are some the Viennese players? Vienna had no less than 20 players on the Austrian national team. Not easy to have such a heartbreaking loss on Saturday night and then switch quickly your focus on a new goal with your club team. Physically it will also be a challenge after playing 3 games in a week. On the other side, Dresden had only 4 players at the European Championship (2 Germans and 2 French), so most of the team will be for sure fresh. If Dresden manage to have a great start, anything is possible.

Vincent Lelard
Vincent Lelard is a Frenchman and former Head Coach of La Courneuve Flash (France) and Offensive Coordinator of the Vienna Vikings (Austria). He has been involved in American Football in Europe for almost 25 years. Today he lives in Vienna and follows the game as a fan.
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