FK Austria Wien have enjoyed their best start to a season in 15 years with five victories from six matches.
The club's fine sequence, including four successive wins from the opening day, was ended only by a 3-1 defeat at defending champions SK Rapid Wien on 6 August. The secret to Austria's success has been strength in depth, with the UEFA Cup contenders able to call on a better class of substitute than in the past.
Back on top
Austria beat VfB Admira Wacker Mödling (2-1), Grazer AK (3-2), SV Mattersburg (2-1) and SV Ried (2-0) before that setback against Rapid. However, a 2-1 home triumph against SK Sturm Graz on Sunday took Austria back to the top of the table, with Rapid drawing 1-1 at GAK on the same day.
Rapid's derby success came after an inauspicious beginning when they lost 3-2 to Sturm. However, in between those fixtures they went on a good run by defeating FC Wacker Tirol (3-0), SV Pasching (2-0) and SV Austria Salzburg (2-0). Nevertheless, they will feel they dropped two points at the weekend.
Despite some big-name arrivals, Salzburg have had a bad start, claiming just two victories after being tipped as favourites for honours before a ball was kicked. Lying in seventh place in the ten-team Bundesliga, they have lost three of their six fixtures, most notably a 3-0 reverse at Ried on 24 July.
Meanwhile, Sturm have shown they are ready to challenge again after two barren years. The club went five matches unbeaten including a 3-2 triumph against Rapid, and have tasted defeat only once in succumbing 2-1 to leaders Austria.
Sturm are one point behind city rivals GAK who, in turn, are three behind Rapid. Grazer, runners-up last term, have lost two games and seen key men like René Aufhauser and Sasa Papac depart. They took the scalp of Salzburg (3-2) but stumbled with a 2-1 loss at Ried on 6 August.
Following sizeable investment, Admira had expected to figure in the top half at least. However, Dominik Thalhammer's team have lost all six matches and the coach's future is already being discussed. The club hope to get their first win at home to the impressive Ried this Saturday.
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