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Two clubs who had a poor start into the season finally want to lay the groundwork for a bright future as they meet in the league on Saturday.
Wolfsberger AC lost three in eight matches. The Carinthian team – a low-budget Bundesliga competitor coached by former national team ace Heimo Pfeifenberger – recently achieved a goalless draw against super-confident promoted club LASK. Now they are determined to challenge Rapid in Vienna on Saturday (kickoff: 4pm).
However, WAC must prepare for a tough fight against a pressurised team who failed to match high expectations so far this season. Rapid director Fredy Bickel warned his team in an interview. “We got to stop feel sorry for ourselves. This is insane,” the Swiss club executive fumed.
Rapid (pictured: Joelinton, Stefan Schwab and Louis Schaub at half time against Salzburg) want to quiet their critics by beating Viennese amateur team ASK Elektra in the Austrian Cup tonight before crushing WAC three days later. Wolfsberger AC beat FV Gleisdorf 2-1 away from home last night (Tues).
Rapid’s most recent matches ended 2-2 against Red Bull Salzburg and Altach. Lucas Galvao – who joined Rapid from Altach only a few weeks ago – found the net in extra time against his former club. One week earlier, Salzburg’s Munas Dabbur spectacularly scored in the 92nd minute against Rapid.
The Bundesliga after eight of 36 rounds:
SK Sturm, 18 points
Red Bull Salzburg, 17
FK Austria, 14
SK Rapid, 10
St. Pölten, 1
The Bulls failed to continue its winning streak against SK Rapid on Sunday. The defending champions achieved a 2-2 draw as attendance reached just 12,300 at the Red Bull Arena. “We managed to equalise twice. This is the main positive aspect of this game,” Rose – whose team face the Portuguese club on Thursday – said.
Red Bull Salzburg striker Munas Dabbur spectacularly scored in the 92nd minute. His team failed to take advantage of an early red card as Rapid right-back Mario Pavelic was sent off in the 16th minute.
“We have shown our potential. The team can challenge top competitors,” Rapid manager Goran Djuricin said, stressing how happy he was about Philipp Schobesberger’s superb comeback. The midfielder, who had been sidelined for months, found the net in the 79th minute – just 12 minutes after he came on.
The Bundesliga after seven of 36 rounds:
SK Sturm, 18 points
Red Bull Salzburg, 14
FK Austria, 11
SK Rapid, 9
St. Pölten, 1
The defending champions are up against the Green-Whites from Vienna at 4.30 pm on Sunday on home soil in Salzburg as the Bundesliga returns following a two-match national team break. Now it emerged that Reinhold Yabo, Marin Pongracic and Mark Rzatkowski will all be sidelined due to various injuries. Especially rock solid midfielder Yabo will truly be missed by coach Marco Rose who is under pressure to create a competitive starting eleven against Rapid who are determined to improve their game after a poor start into the season.
Rapid manager Goran Djuricin must do without Christopher Dibon, Ivan Mocinic and Philipp Malicsek but is expected to nominate Veton Berisha. The 23-year-old striker – whose brother Valon has been one of RB Salzburg’s most significant players in the past few seasons – signed a three-year contract last week.
Meanwhile Andreas Ulmer has earned a special honour. The no-nonsense defender was named Footballer of the Year at the 21st Bruno Gala. Former RBS captain Jonathan Soriano received the trophy in 2015 and 2016 while ex-RBS star Kevin Kampl – who joined RB Leipzig from Bayer Leverkusen only a few weeks ago – won it in 2014.