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Raiders challenge defending champion Adler in Eurobowl
Defending champion Berlin Adler will travel to Innsbruck to face the hosting Tyrolean Raiders on June 18 at Innsbruck's Tivoli in this year's final for the Eurobowl trophy. The game will be aired live by Austrian TV channel ORF Sports Plus and will also be broadcasted via Internet livestreaming on www.raiderstv.at, www.redbull.com, www.redbull.at, www.redbulltv.com, www.tt.com, www.gfl-tv.de and www.football-austria.com.
It marks the 25th time an European club champion in american football is determined and the fourth time teams from Germany and Austria, the most succesful nations in European Football League history, battle for the trophy in direct encounter. In 2003 Braunschweig was able to beat Vienna, in 2007 Vienna was the winner over Marburg. In last year's final again Vienna tried to make history for Austria, but was denied the triumph by Berlin, which recorded the seventh overall Eurobowl title for Germany and thus defending Germany's edge in EFL victories over Austria, whose six Eurobowl titles in a row where won from 2004 to 2009.
Now another chapter of the never-ending rivalry between the two nations will be written - and the Tyrolean Raiders will enter it as the favorite. Not just because the Raiders are the only team in Eurobowl history who reached the final game more than just once and never lost. And not only because they were succesful in the bidding process for the hosting rights by supplying the chance of TV live coverage and preparing an extraordinary event surrounding the game - among other items featuring performances by the Raiderettes cheerleaders from Tyrol's NFL partner Oakland Raiders. While the Raiders have ended their national season in first place after the regular season and easily rushed through the semifinals against last year's Austrian champion Danube Dragons, the Berlin Adler are struggling to some extent midway through the German GFL season of 2011 with a playoff spot in reach but well less then secured by now.
Which has to do with one of the most apparent „storylines“ for this year's Eurobowl final: Head coach Shuan Fatah, his assistant Lee Rowland and a number of players, including quarterback Kyle Callahan and running back Talib Wise, left Berlin after last year's German vice championship to head for Innsbruck, where they now meet their former teammates. So while most of the returning coaches and players from last year's final might be on the Adler side, some of the masterminds of Berlin's first Eurobowl title will be present as well - but on the opponent's side. Especially for Fatah, a long-term member of former Adler teams as a player and coach, the situation will be a very special one. Not everybody at Berlin was happy with his move he announced only minutes after his team had lost last year's German Bowl. And with the Austrian Bowl final scheduled just five days after the Eurobowl at Vienna (a tight schedule owed to the IFAF World Cup in Austria in July) the expectations at Innsbruck may well exceed what could be performed by a coaching staff in terms of preparation for two of the most challenging opponents you will find in Europe.
And despite recent Adler losses in Germany you still better account the Adler team as one of Europe's top sides. Especially if you are from the Austrian AFL: Mostly being rated the underdog in these encounters the Adler have beaten all their AFL opponents in EFL games. Including last year's semifinal at Innsbruck (which obviously spoked the first notion within the Raiders management to hire Fatah), Eurobowl XXIV at Vienna or this year's semifinal after an 0-21 first-half deficit against Graz. With less than three weeks before the World Cup will kick off in Austria the matchup of the Eurobowl final will certainly help to further build up the excitement for american football in Austria - and of course also will propel the German-Austrian rivalry.