The two games in the Champions League qualifying against Sparta Prague could determine the fate of Rapid this season significantly. If the green-whites survive the second round, at least the Europa League group stage is fixed, which would make a lot of things easier. Sports managing director Zoran Barisic saw slight advantages for the Czech runner-up before the first leg today (8.30 p.m. / live in the sportkrone.at ticker) in Vienna. Rapid also “doesn’t want to be goshered” against Salzburg.
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Barisic does not see the upheaval at the Austrian series champion, who lost some key players and coach Jesse Marsch, as an invitation to spit big tones. “We want to qualify for the champions group once, we want to create a good starting position. Then we see if we can attack. We want to get into a European group stage, we want to look good there, ”he said of the goals for the season. “But I think we should always think in small steps, not get excited and trumpet something. If you fly high, you will also fall very hard. “
Barisic went on to say: “We are a workers’ club, and accordingly we have to work very hard for everything.” First against Sparta Prague. He trusts the team to be promoted, “although we certainly won’t go into the game as favorites”. The Czechs have “a more expensive team” that goes to work in a very structured and well-organized manner. “You can run, but you want to and can also play football.” With Sturm shares Adam Hlozek, central defender Ondrej Celustka (both Czech Republic) and David Hancko (Slovakia), the club from the north of the “Golden City” also has three European Championship participants in the squad.
Massive fan support
In the first leg, the Rapid team want to take advantage of their home advantage – 18,000 visitors or more are expected – and write to them. “If we perform well in the first game, that can sort out a lot for the near future,” said coach Dietmar Kühbauer, who can almost draw on the full in terms of personnel. Only Philipp Schobesberger and Dalibor Velimirovic, who are still in advanced training, will definitely be missing, Christopher Dibon will probably continue to wait. “Tuesday is a game where you really have to be at the limit,” emphasized Kühbauer. In the event of promotion, the French preseason third AS Monaco would wait with coach Niko Kovac.
The massive support of the fans was already noticeable last Friday in the 6-0 Cup victory against Wiener Viktoria. Just over 8,000 spectators were in the Allianz Stadium, but “it felt like 35,000 were there. That is enormously important for us when there is this atmosphere, the constant cheering ”, said Kühbauer. “If you look at the mood, we know what we were missing the year and a half before,” said Barisic, who was also impressed. How long the stadium gates will be open to everyone can “seriously not be said” given the increasing number of new coronavirus infections.
Kühbauer would like to have access
The pandemic has hit all football clubs in Europe, said Barisic. That makes big leaps on the transfer market more difficult now – also with Rapid. “All in all, we have minus two players,” said Kühbauer recently. “If one or the other would come, I wouldn’t mind”. Moving into a group stage would create the necessary leeway for this. This could possibly be used in advance in case players should go missing later in the summer. Frequently named transfer candidates are Maximilian Ullmann, Ercan Kara or Taxiarchis Fountas.
“If you have a good team, where one or the other draws attention to themselves, then that’s only good and positive. That’s one of our business areas that we live on, ”said Barisic, who recently negotiated a loan deal with Yusuf Demir and FC Barcelona. Barca have a purchase option for the 18-year-old in 2022, which was stated to be € 10m. “I would wish him to prevail,” he said. “And if he comes back, we’ll get a better player.”