LIVESTREAM Austrian Bowl: Dacia Vienna Vikings @ Swarco Raiders, July 31, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

Under the lights in Tivoli stadium is where this year’s Austrian Bowl XXXVI will be played.

In the shadow of the snow-covered Alps, two familiar teams will face each other for the championship as the Swarco Raiders will host the Dacia Vienna Vikings in this highly anticipated rivalry championship rematch.

These two powerhouse programs know each other well. This will be the four season in a row they will meet to decide the championship, which is only fitting as it will be the fourth time these two have faced this season. Currently, the Raiders have the edge winning two of the three previous matchups this season.

The Raiders lucked into hosting the championship after floods made the fields of NV Arena of St. Pölten unplayable. The move to their home stadium comes as good news to the Raiders who are coming off of an uncharacteristic up and down season, missing many key players to injuries. Head coach Kevin Herron is excited to have a healthy line-up ready for tonight’s championship after relying on his entire roster throughout the season:

Austrian Bowl: Dacia Vienna Vikings @ Swarco Raiders, July 21, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

“We truly needed everyone on the team at some point in time. It’s not just a number of guys that started the whole season and got us through, and then some guys riding that wave,” Herron emphasizes. “No, everybody has actually been on the field and had to contribute and therefore it makes it that much more special.”

The friendly crowd should make some noise that will help this Swarco defense. This experienced defense is accustomed to big games as the Raiders have a chance to win their third consecutive Austrian Bowl tonight.  Led by veteran safety Vincent Müller and Thomas Kugler this athletic secondary is the strength of the Raiders defense. Add import speedy Davion Washington to the mix, and the group becomes truly special. Linebackers AJ Wentland and Alex Ferrari must be able to tackle today against a Vikings offense that has the league’s best rushing attack. If defensive lineman Sebastian Schaar can hold his gap and slow down Vienna’s run game the Raiders could be celebrating a three-peat. Defensive back Davion Washington commented on the big game:

“Everyone is aware of what is at stake this weekend and we are excited to compete. They know us well and we know them, so it all comes down to who wants it more.

Quarterback Sean Shelton leads the Raiders offense into the championship for the fifth time in five seasons. The three-time champion looks to make it four behind a Raiders offensive line determined to protect their team captain against a fierce Vikings pass rush. Fans can expect Shelton to target young Marco Schneider. The 5’9 receiver was recently given the league’s Young Star Award earlier this week after a breakout season. Veteran receiver Adrian Platzgummer and versatile Davion Washington are two other talents Shelton is sure to involve in his gameplan. On the ground, a committee of Lukas Haslwanter, Tobias Bonnati, and Ruben Seeber will help carry the load, along with Shelton tucking and running himself. In three matchups with the Viking’s defense, the Raiders have averaged 23.6 points per game. They will have to avoid turnovers in order to celebrate another championship in front of their home crowd. Shelton on facing a familiar Vikings defense once again:

“Preparation doesn’t really change. There is just obviously a lot more experience with the Vikings but we just have to execute what we do well and focus on us and typically that works well for us.”

The Vikings make the cross-country business trip to Innsbruck on a revenge mission after losing the Austrian Bowl to the Raiders in both 2018 and 2019. Head coach Chris Calaycay looks forward to his impressive 14th title game appearance in Austria, this time coaching against a familiar foe in search of his eighth title.

We’ve played each other a lot in the last couple of years, so as far as the surprise factor there’s always going to be some kind of special play or something that’s going to happen but what it comes down to is really cliché; the team that takes care of the football and plays great special teams.”

The Vikings offense however features a newcomer to the league in dynamic quarterback Eystin Salum. Salum’s athleticism has been on full display this season as he’s excelled in Vienna’s run-based offense, rushing for 478 yards and ten touchdowns, while adding 1,390 yards and 14 scores through the air. Running back Florian Wegen however, leads the Vikings in rushing as the stocky back’s strong legs propel him forward gaining yards after contact. The homegrown talent is a large part of the Viking’s success rushing for a league-leading 906 yards and nine touchdowns. Fans can also expect reality dating show and Austrian Football League star Andrew Spencer to see plenty of touches out of the backfield as well tonight. On the outside, young receivers Daniel Schwam and Maurice Wappl must-win thier one-on-one battles against an experienced Raiders secondary to give Salum a go-to guy in the passing game. If former Indiana University (NCAA D1) star Mitchell Paige suits up expect the quick-twitch receiver to make an impact out of the slot. Salum on the potential of winning the Austrian Bowl:

“It’s what I came here to do. It’s been the goal the entire season. it would mean a lot to win a championship with these guys and now we have that added bonus of winning it at our rivals location so it means a lot in that’s what we’ve been working for our entire season”

Austrian Bowl: Dacia Vienna Vikings @ Swarco Raiders, July 21, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

In an extra wrinkle coach Calaycay has often used 19-year-old talent Nico Rhouda at quarterback this season, simultaneously sending the athletic Salum out wide. If Rhouda can find Salum in the endzone again tonight, it could go a long way to a Vikings victory. Salum commented on the quarterback to quarterback connection:

“ It’s obviously something we have in our arsenal as an offense. Nico is a great young talent, and it gives our top-rated offense just another dynamic to be able to spread me out wide and let him sling the rock. As far as whether you’ll see it…you’ll just have to tune into the game.”

The star of Vienna’s defense is without a doubt the two-time defensive player of the year Leon Balogh. Balogh’s award-worthy stats are headlined by a league-best 11 sacks. Fellow defensive lineman Maximillian Müller has also been a force in the middle contributing four sacks of his own. If the Vikings pass rush can get home today the championship could be heading to Vienna for the first time since 2017. Linebacker Lucky Efosa Ogbevon is the team enforcer, he’s made a reputation for himself as one of the league’s best tacklers. Expect him to get a rise out of the crowd with a big hit tonight.

In the secondary, Vikings safety Luis Horvath leads the team with 35 tackles. Vienna’s defensive backfield also features young talent such as Benjamin Straight and Nicolaus Huszar. Both Luis Horvath and versatile athlete Andrew Spencer bolster the unit with speed and experience. Against a Raiders pass-happy offense, Vienna’s secondary must be able to contain Swarco’s potent passing attack. Horvath on the teams family mentality heading into the championship:

“As long as we stay as a team and stay as one unit we are unbeatable”

Expect Tivoli stadium to be rocking in support of their Raiders tonight as the Vikings will have to win in hostile territory in order to claim the title this year. However, this year’s Vienna squad has all the talent necessary to pull off the upset against their arch-rivals. On the other sideline, the Raiders would love nothing more than to hoist the trophy for three consecutive seasons in front of their home fans. Fans of European football should anticipate another fantastic matchup between these two excellent football teams.

Watch the game live here. Austrian Bowl: Dacia Vienna Vikings @ Swarco Raiders, July 21, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

Dacia Vienna Vikings roster (Click to enlarge)

Swarco Raiders roster

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football