LASK Linz

LASK docked points
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LASK Linz loses Austrian league lead for team training

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LINZ, Austria — Austrian league leader LASK Linz has been deducted six points for conducting team training sessions in violation of pandemic restrictions, a decision that could have a big impact on the title race.

The points deduction means LASK slipped from first place to second, three points behind defending champion Salzburg. There are 10 rounds left to play in the Austrian Bundesliga, which is due to resume on June 2.

The Austrian soccer league said Thursday its also fined the club 75,000 euros ($83,000) for breaking “the basic idea of fair play.”

[ MORE: German Bundesliga Week 29 predictions, preview ]

LASK said it will appeal the verdict.

The proceedings against LASK were started on May 14, when videos were shown to the league of the team training together instead of in small groups as permitted.

The club later acknowledged it held four team training sessions. Both LASK coach Valérien Ismaël and vice-president Jürgen Werner apologized during a press conference.

LASK has 14 days to lodge its appeal.

LASK v. Man United to be played in empty stadium

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Man United will play in an empty stadium at LASK Linz in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 on Thursday due to fears over the spread of coronavirus.

The Austrian club confirmed that one of the biggest games in their history will be played behind-closed-doors, as over 900 Man United fans have bought tickets for the game and it is expected they will now be refunded. The Austrian Interior Minister has banned events of more than 500 people from taking place.

In a statement the leaders of the Austrian Bundesliga had the following to say regarding the game against Man United.

“LASK announces that the home game against Man United must take place without spectators. The association will provide further information after publication of the relevant decree.”

The chairman of the Austrian Bundesliga, Christian Ebenbauer, added the following comments:

“Of course we all prefer to watch atmospheric games with many spectators, but we are experiencing an exceptional situation across the country. We fully trust the experts responsible and of course implement the measures to protect the population. Like other organisers, these measures are associated with massive organisational and financial challenges for us and our clubs.”

Wolves’ trip to Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa League is due to be played in an empty stadium in Greece on Thursday, while reports state the Premier League club have asked for the game to be postponed as Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis confirmed he has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League game at Bayern Munich next week also seems likely to be played in an empty Allianz Arena as Bavaria, Germany has taken similar measures to Austria in banning large events.

Games in Serie A are postponed, matches in La Liga will be played in empty stadiums until early April and that will also happen in France for Ligue 1 games, while plenty of other leagues across Europe are also impacted.

LIVE, UCL: Amid tense encounters, Ajax battle for group stage

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The second legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round take center stage on Wednesday, as Ajax, Club Brugge and Slavia Prague all host ties which are in the balance.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All three games will be tight and tense occasions as the winners will get the final three spots in the UCL group stage for the 2019-20 season.

Ajax, who reached the semifinals of the UCL last season, drew 0-0 away at APOEL Nicosia last time out and were pretty lucky to get that result. They are expected to advance in Amsterdam but their young team has to improve as the Cypriot champions looked dangerous on set pieces and counter attacks in the first leg.

Club Brugge and Slavia Prague both have slender advantages heading into the second legs, with Brugge winning 1-0 against Linz ASK in Austria and Slavia winning by the same scoreline in Romania against Cluj in the first leg. With so much on the line financially for all of these clubs, Wednesday’s clashes will be nail-bitters.

Below is the full schedule for Wednesday’s games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Wednesday
Ajax v. APOEL Nicosia (0-0)
Slavia Prague v. CFR Cluj (1-0)
Club Brugge v. LASK (1-0)

Live, UCL: Ajax in action as playoff round begins

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The first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round kick off on Tuesday, as Ajax, Club Brugge and Slavia Prague all head on road trips as they hope to clear the final hurdle and reach the group stage.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

It is rather outrageous that Ajax, the reigning Dutch champions who reached the semifinal of the UCL last season, have to qualify for this tournament, but here they are. Dusan Tadic (fresh from signing a new seven-year contract) is once again leading the charge for this young Dutch side who have lost Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt over the summer, and edged past PAOK 5-4 on aggregate in the last round. Ajax head to APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus in the first leg and hope to have a healthy advantage to take back with them to Amsterdam for the second leg next week.

Club Brugge head to LASK Linz from Austria as USMNT goalkeeper Evan Horvath now faces real competition for his starting spot as Belgian national team and former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet arrived over the summer. LASK shocked FC Basel in the third qualifying round

As for the other game on Tuesday, CFR Cluj host Slavia Prague in Romania in a clash between two teams who have been making waves in Europe over the past few years. Cluj knocked Celtic out in the last round and it will be quite the occasion in Transylvania, as Slavia’s star man is Romanian international Nicolae Stanciu.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. Three more UCL playoff games take place on Wednesday.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday
APOEL Nicosia v. Ajax
CFR Cluj v. Slavia Prague
LASK v. Club Brugge