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#FirstTeam #EuropaLeague #PreMatch #Opinion #LASK

LASK analysis with European football expert Andy Brassell

Thu 22 October 2020, 12:40|Tottenham Hotspur

As we kick-off the group stages of the UEFA Europa League, we’ve again tapped into the knowledge of European football expert Andy Brassell, a regular on the pages and podcasts of the likes of The Guardian, Football Ramble and talkSPORT.

First up, tonight’s opponents LASK, the Austrian Bundesliga side who shocked comparative European giants Sporting CP of Portugal 4-1 in the play-off round at Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon to qualify for the group stages.

Andy on LASK...

“Beating Sporting Lisbon in the play-off was a huge scalp for LASK. They went there and played with great belief, and great quality. People in Portugal were shocked by that result - and they could have had a few more as well.

“For LASK, it’s a result they needed. They should really be the champions of Austria. They were top of the league going into the coronavirus hiatus, but they started group training before they were allowed to, got their wires crossed, and ended up contravening the rules, and were docked six points when they were top of the league.

“They went into free fall from there. It meant RB Salzburg, their big rivals, who had lost some big players like Takumi Minamino (to Liverpool) and Erling Haaland (to Borussia Dortmund), got a boost in the title race and overtook them without doing anything. LASK finished the season quite badly and ended up fourth in the end. Valerien Ismael, who used to play at Crystal Palace, Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg, was fired off the back of that."

“A lot is expected there now and for them to be able to take a scalp like Sporting is absolutely huge. I guess there was a stench of failure after the way last season finished, but they want to come back and come back strongly this season.

“I was super impressed with them at Sporting. If you look at the fourth goal, scored by Andreas Gruber, he scored a lot of goals in the Austrian Bundesliga last season and he’s a player who will want to step up a level, he went through on goal and where many players might have blasted it, he made an unbelievable chip over Adan in goal, an experienced goalkeeper, that was really impressive.

“LASK have a lot about them. For them to make some sort of impression in Europe this season, especially as part of when it fell apart last season included getting an absolute hammering by Manchester United in the knockout round (7-1 on aggregate), is a big deal for them.”