Rapid’s European Cup season begins on Thursday (7pm / ORF 1) with the home game against Lechia Gdansk, which the Hütteldorfers want to last as long as possible. Green-White enters the second qualifying round of the Conference League – a total of three rounds must survive in order to participate in the financially profitable group stage. The third round contender will be the winner of Aris Limassol (Cyprus) against Naftsi Baku (Azerbaijan).
Coach Ferdinand Wildhofer doesn’t want to think that much. “The focus is clearly on the two games against Lecia,” Styria confirmed. Feldhofer described the Poles, who have Austrian right-back and former St. Polten professional David Stick, as “a very good team that plays good football. Of course, we also recognized some weaknesses”.
Leccia advanced to the second round with a score of 6-1 on aggregate in front of North Macedonia representative Academia Pandev. The start of the Polish league last Sunday failed with a 0:3 defeat away to Wisla Block. However, Feldhofer’s respect is great. “Lecia are a very good opponent in the second round of qualifying, which is a real hurdle. We will definitely need two very good introductions. The key will be to win at home.”
At the dress rehearsal, 1-0 in the first round of the ÖFB Cup in Treibach, Rapid revealed the potential for improvement. “We took some evidence with us,” Feldhofer said, referring in this context to chance exploits, passing, residual defense, positional play and standard positions. Ahead of the first home game of the new season, Rapid’s coach has a plethora of personnel, only the return of Verdi Drogev, Maximilian Hoffmann and Roman Kirschbaum, who are in advanced training, still pending. Niklas Hedl starts in goal, otherwise one of the two positions will remain open when looking for a regular formation. “Eleven will appear first, but it will not be possible to play every three or four days with the same eleven or twelve players. There will be a rude awakening,” explained Feldhofer.
The coach can undo Christopher Dupont, who wants to repeat it after numerous injuries. Despite the best bathing weather, Hütteldorfer hopes to have a large number of fans – around 12,000 are expected. There’s also a bonus: people under 14 have free admission.
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