The Bundesliga cracker between Red Bull Salzburg and Rapid Vienna will already take place next Sunday. But the conditions for the Hütteldorfer are anything but ideal. Not only that Rapid has been without a win for four rounds and has not won against Salzburg in eleven league duels. To make matters worse, eleven players are also missing. So does Dejan Petrovic, who has been unavailable for months due to a cruciate ligament tear sustained in training.
But not only that. Niklas Hedl, Maximilian Hofmann and Bernhard Zimmermann are missing due to suspensions. In addition, according to coach Ferdinand Feldhofer, Filip Stojkovic is “more than questionable”. The full-back suffered a back injury in the derby last week. Putting together the team for Sunday is like a “daily handicraft hour”, Feldhofer said and spoke of other, unnamed, ailing players.
Ferdinand Feldhofer admitted before the game: “The omens are not good.” But the Rapid coach also emphasized: “With our fans behind us, we want to play a great game and collect points.” By Friday noon, over 19,000 tickets had been sold. Feldhofer demanded passion and commitment from his players. “Without these virtues we have no chance.” The match plan will not only be aimed at destroying it. “It’s not in our DNA,” Feldhofer said.
In the race for the important final third place, his team has a two-point lead over Austria in the master group. After the Salzburg match, Rapid will end up away against WAC. Austria has Austria Klagenfurt (away) and Sturm Graz (home) in front of their chests. “We want to keep third place to the finish. The starting position is very exciting, but we still have a very good starting position and our fate is in our own hands,” explained Feldhofer.
That could change on Sunday for anything but the seventh “Bulls” win against Rapid in a row would be a surprise. “Salzburg is even more of a favorite than usual, but the favorite doesn’t always win,” said Feldhofer.
The fact that Salzburg could take it easy after the already fixed double is not an issue for the Styrian. “It’s no secret that Salzburg are even more motivated against us.” Nevertheless, in the last two showdowns there were “only” two 1:2 defeats for Rapid, most recently you conceded the decisive goal against the series champion only in the 94th minute. “It’s getting tighter and tighter. Even if nobody has us on the bill anymore – maybe it will work on Sunday,” said Feldhofer.
Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle would like to avoid losing points at all costs. “Our goals have not changed: we want to win the last few games and round off this extraordinary season. This is our motivation. The records would be a nice by-product.” Should the “Bulls” decide the last two matches for themselves, they would have set the winning record of Wiener Austria from the 1985/86 season with 26 successes. Back then, however, 36 rounds were played, four more than now.
Jaissle suspected that green and white would make life difficult for Salzburg. “For Rapid there is a lot at stake – and they will appear accordingly. We will be challenged from the first minute,” warned the German.