Vienna Vikings travel to Innsbruck to take on Raiders Tirol in the “Battle of Austria”

Today, the Vienna Vikings will reignite the old Austrian rivalry as they travel down to Innsbruck to take on the Raiders Tirol in Week 6 of the European League of Football (ELF).

Back when the ELF was still just a twinkle in the eye of Commissioner Patrick Esume, a rivalry raged in the Austrian Football League between the Vienna Vikings and Raiders Tirol. Despite making it to the final nearly every year since 2015, the Vikings bested the Raiders just once.

Fast forward to 2022, and both the Vikings and the Raiders have entered the ELF. Unfortunately for the Raiders however, the tables have now turned, and the Vikings are yet to lose a game in the ELF.

The Vikings are still steamrolling opponents this year, but it’s safe to say their competition is a little lighter. They have faced the three worst teams in the league (Enthroners, Lions and Kings) and the Berlin Thunder, who almost beat them. Considering who their competition has been, it is slightly surprising they are not at the top of the league in every category.

Outside of a quarterback change, Jackson Erdmann for Chris Helbig, the Vikings have largely remained the same. Helbig currently ranks ninth in the league with 1008 yards and nine touchdowns, although it could be argued that they haven’t been in a position to ask much of him with regular 30+ point differentials.

One area that the Vikings have excelled in, however, is their running game. Florian Wegan, just one of the Wegan brothers, is currently averaging seven yards per carry over 63 attempts and five touchdowns. If the Raiders can contain Wegan, they may force the Vikings hand and we will finally see what Helbig is made of.

The Raiders started off the season looking like one of the best teams in the league. New quarterback Christian Strong – replacement for longtime Raider Sean Shelton – has outdone himself. He has shown poise and awareness in the pocket and an ability to make any pass asked of him. Despite the Raiders’ outstanding Austrian receiving corps, Strong has heavily favored Jarvis McClam. And why wouldn’t he when McClam was one of the best players in the league over the first few weeks?

In the Raiders game against the Surge last week however, McClam was either perfectly schemed against or injured as he managed just 17 yards. This was painfully reflected in the final score which saw the Raiders drop their first game of the season 6–3.

Last week against the Seamen, McClam was back to his old ways. Strong threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly, he also seemed to be in far better rhythm with the Austrian receivers.

In addition to their excellent passing game, the Raiders definitely have a gem in running back Tobias Bonatti. Bonatti sits just behind Wegan in the stats and has been a three-down back the Raiders can rely on. 

The Raiders are tried and tested; they have played some of the best teams in the league already. We have seen every facet of their game and they will be coming for revenge after suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of the Vikings last year. Vienna still has one of the deepest rosters in the league, but we simply don’t know what they can do yet. Helbig remains the biggest question mark. He may just be forced into that key role today.

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.