Cup chance after EL blow for Rapid

Rapid hope to make progress on domestic level after having suffered a narrow defeat against Inter.

It seems the Green-Whites successfully worked on their defensive frailties during the winter break as the only goal in Thursday’s Europa League clash came from a controversial penalty. Now Dietmar Kühbauer’s team are fully focused on Sunday’s ÖFB Cup quarter final against Hartberg (Allianz Stadion, 5.15pm).

The fixture would be the ideal opportunity for the Hütteldorf outfit to take revenge on Hartberg the low-budget club from Styria as Rapid took a devastating 0-3 pounding in the league. Rapid most recently reached the final of the Austrian cup in 2017. Bundesliga powerhouse Red Bull Salzburg won the match which took place in Klagenfurt. This year, the final is set to take place at the Generali Arena, home turf of Rapid’s city rivals FK Austria.

Tomorrow’s cup match is Rapid’s second competitive fixture this year. The team prepared for the second half of the season in Belek, Turkey, before meeting Slovenian side NK Triglav Kranj for a friendly in Vienna on Friday last week (5-2).




Busy transfer period ends as Rapid face Inter

Rapid supporters were unsure whether to be terrified or thrilled about their team’s next European opponents.

The Viennese side – who look back on a disappointing spell in domestic football – face Inter on Thursday (6.55pm). Few experts think that kicking out the former Champions League winners is within the bounds of possibility for the squad of Dietmar Kühbauer. However, Vienna’s Allianz Stadion will be sold out when Rapid play their first competitive match in 2019.

Much criticism has been levelled at the Green-Whites’ transfer policy. The club – who prepared for upcoming tasks in Turkish seaside resort Belek – signed Senegalese striker Aliou Badji from Djurgardens earlier this week. Already in January, Rapid announced that Jeremy Guillemenot, midfielder Aleksandar Kostic and keeper Christoph Haas would leave the club.

Rapid’s final friendly ahead of the clash with the powerfully attractive Serie A opponents took place on Friday. The Kühbauer side struggled to produce a significant number of chances to score in the first half against NK Triglav Kranj from Slovenia. Rapid’s performance improved significantly after the break. Defender Mario Sonnleitner came off the bench to score a beautiful header in the 5-2 victory.


Get Up, Stand Up!

A renowned journalist who has been causing indignation among right-wing voters has written a book on standing up against xenophobia.

Anja Reschke has infuriated nationalist citizens by denouncing the rising number of physical violence against refugees and arson at their accommodations. A comment on national television in which she spoke out against these incidents and the increasingly hostile atmosphere exploded online. The clip has recorded around 20 million views. In “Haltung zeigen!”, Reschke reveals that she has been receiving demeaning mails and hate-filled letters referring to her contested statement nearly each day ever since.

In her book, the Hanns Joachim Friedrichs Award laureate reflects on strict manners during her childhood when her grandmother ordered her to sit upright for dinner. She analyses various terms linked with the subject and argues that expressing one’s opinion does not breach journalists’ vow of absolute independence.

At less than 100 pages, “Haltung zeigen!” makes compelling reading as the book offers a compact overview on what has happened in Germany since the intense immigration of refugees from war-torn Syria in 2015. Xenophobic sentiment has surged to such an extent in the prosperous country that Alternative für Deutschland, a far-right party widely considered as racist, triumphed at several provincial but also the most recent federal election.

Reschke’s courageous appeal is desperately needed in times like these. Her book is a vital contribution to the debate on multicultural tolerance and migration.

Haltung zeigen!
By Anja Reschke
Published by rororo / Rowohlt (

Lienen. Littbarski. Labbadia.

In its 65 years of existence, the German Bundesliga has delighted us with numerous remarkable athletes but also characters – from 1970s legends like Allan Simonsen and world-class strikers such as Giovane Elber to Mario Basler and other acid-tongued loudmouths.

Andreas Hock has selected some of the most memorable Panini stickers and enriched this great collection of moustaches and outrageous haircuts with hilarious anecdotes. “Das Buch der legendären Panini-Bilder” does without long, convoluted essays on the game. The author rather focused on fun facts and heart-stopping moments of the careers of players and coaches – from Felix Magath, Uli Stein and Anthony Yeboah to Rudi Völler, Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn.

Who became a cult hero not because of compelling performances on the pitch but due to the way Franz Beckenbauer pronounced his name? Which Eastern European footballer tried pilfering a fur coat? This book will deepen your addiction to football nostalgia.

Das Buch der legendären Panini-Bilder
By Andreas Hock
Published by Riva (

Brief but brilliant

Heinz Strunk has created marvellous plots rotating somewhere between banality and obscenity ever since his debut, “Fleisch ist mein Gemüse”, which exploded in 2004. While “Junge rettet Freund aus Teich” (2013) was a tender celebration of childhood, the highly controversial “Der golden Handschuh”, published in 2016, was probably just too repulsive.

Now Strunk has released “Das Teemännchen”, a collection of short stories which are just brilliant. There are just a few good guys with bad luck like the nervous young actor messing up his audition or the bloke who wonders how he ended up strapped to the blade of a wind turbine.

The truth is that in “Das Teemännchen”, it’s all about the vile and verminous core of the human soul. It tells from the nightmare trip of a young man from Western Germany to the other side of the Iron Curtain to visit his girlfriend’s dad. With the opening “Tempo 100”, Strunk has done a fantastic job in portraying a couple who do everything they can to make the other one’s life worse.

All those stories are less complex and, maybe, compelling than Strunk’s novels. However, “Das Teemännchen” is a phenomenal return to form of one of Germany’s most celebrated but also contested authors. No one else captures our unsettled times more sublimely.

Das Teemännchen
By Heinz Strunk
Published by Rowohlt (

Girls and the ghetto

He describes himself as a rather good-looking chap with decent German skills who enjoyed a cosmopolite upbringing. Nevertheless, Todor Ovtcharov still struggles getting along in Vienna. Having lived here for years, the young Bulgarian experienced some outrageously hilarious encounters.

In an approach comparable to Wladimir Kaminer’s “Russendisko”, “Die Leiden des jungen Todor” features anecdotes from how to handle gangsters in Vienna’s “ghetto districts” to interminable troubles linked with Pamela Anderson. Ovtcharov would like to take Karl Marx to Lugner City shopping mall and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a drum and bass bash. He describes what it was like to grow up behind the Iron Curtain and how he felt as he entered unfamiliar territory for the first time. According to Ovtcharov, integration is nothing but modern feudalism. He warns from the risk of a life-threatening escalation of hugging and kissing rituals.

Some readers will reject certain argumentations. However, Ovtcharov’s straight-forward approach is immensely entertaining and delightful.

Die Leiden des jungen Todor
By Todor Ovtcharov
Published by redelsteiner dahimene edition (


Throughout his career, there were always more versatile teammates. From his beginnings at Hannover 96 as a teenager, observers doubted whether he would ever make it. That long dude obviously lacked pace and technical skills. Some even claimed that Per Mertesacker was only in the squad because his dad was their coach. However, they all made the cardinal error of underestimating the tenacity of that chap.

The two-metre guy from Pattensen, a remote town near Hanover, evolved into one of the best centre backs of the Bundesliga. He was a key player of the German national team for 10 years and captained Werder Bremen and Arsenal.

Now the “big fucking German”, as Gunners supporters would chant, has released his autobiography. Co-written by Raphael Honigstein, an expert on British football and the author of a book on Jürgen Klopp, “Weltmeister ohne Talent. Mein Leben, meine Karriere” features some remarkable revelations on…

… Ewald Lienen

Lienen was widely considered as a rough, overly serious and a bit weird. Everyone knew that the right behaviour and a balanced diet were of great importance to him. But he turned out to be totally different. On the night before a match, he’d hold lengthy speeches, sharing anecdotes, mocking the press, us and himself. It was hilarious.

… the day Robert Enke killed himself

I was having dinner with the national team in a hotel when Lukas Podolski read on his mobile that Robert Enke had committed suicide. A few seconds later Oliver Bierhoff confirmed the incident. You hear what he is announcing but his words don’t really reach you. No one said a thing for 20 minutes. We were all just sitting there, stunned by the shocking news.

… Arsene Wenger

I was in a Dusseldorf hotel room when Wenger called. He was talking in German – that impressed me a lot. It was exciting to get contacted by such a venerated manager. Wenger could have read the menu of his favourite restaurant to me – it would not have made any difference. I was desperate to join Arsenal.

Every coach is different. Wenger was very calm and always focused on facts. He rarely raised his voice. Occasionally he’d appeal on us to take the opponents’ breath like an anaconda or hunt for the ball like a pack of wolves – which tempted Lukas Podolski to howl. Wenger smiled. He liked that.

… the on-pitch celebrations after the 2014 World Cup final

Mario Götze was the one I was hugging the longest. I wanted to show him that all the extra effort was worth it. We had done hours of yoga together but Mario had also tried out neuro-athletic workout. All those years of hard work had paid off. Sharing our emotions on the pitch after the match, with each member of the squad, was an overwhelming feeling.

… what is going wrong at Arsenal Academy

At the moment, Arsenal youngsters are sitting sports marketing seminars for two hours a week. They click around the screen a bit and get a diploma in the end. You won’t get far like this on the job market. That has to change. Kids should not just focus on football at the age of 16. Long-term prospects as a professional player are considerably low. None of my Hannover 96 Academy teammates who were also born in 1984 have made it.

Weltmeister ohne Talent. Mein Leben, meine Karriere
By Stephan Orth & Raphael Honigstein
Published by Ullstein extra (