After touching down in Turkey on Friday and then taking a day to acclimatise, the serious business of friendly fixtures began on Sunday, as Rapid took on cult-German outfit FC St. Pauli from Hamburg. Currently 4th in the German second division, the Hansa City side offered a good opportunity for Rapid to build on their hitherto gentler training programme. So, in the sun in Side, both sides took to the pitches at the Emirhan Sport Complex for what would be an entertaining friendly duel.
In front of roughly 100 onlookers, including Rapid legend and ex-Manager Peter Schöttel and members of his SV Grödig side - amongst them Harry Pichler, as well as Brian Behrendt who had strolled over from his training camp with Arminia Bielefed to watch his old team mates in action, an entertaining game unfolded.
Sobiech hit the bar for St. Pauli with a header in the first close call at either end (11.), before Steffen Hofmann registered a repost for his side that crept narrowly wide of the far post (16.). Mario Pavelic came off at this juncture having picked up a slight knock to be replaced by Srdjan Grahovac who slipped into the back four in his place. Flo Kainz and Philipp Prosenik then both tried their luck (20.), before a flurry of long shots tested the St. Pauli keepers' handling. It appeared that Rapid were close to a breakthrough, but they failed to find an opening goal in the remainder of the half.
Shortly after the restart Richard Strebinger repelled an effort from Alushi (52.), and it would be the Green & Whites who finally made the breakthrough: a corner from Flo Kainz caused problems at the near post, hitting the frame of the goal before coming out to Stefan Schwab, who hammered the ball into the roof of the net from close range - 1:0 (60. – click here to see the goal). With a raft of changes came a loss in momentum, which the Germans capitalised upon to draw level: Sobota beat substitute Tobias Knoflach with a low drive into the corner (72.). Our keeper made amends minutes later when he pulled off a good save (74.), but Knoflach was helpless as Sobota shot and relieved to see the ball rebound to safety off the frame of the goal (82.). The first friendly match finished with a satisfactory 1:1 score line; the second game takes place on Saturday against Bohemians Prague.
Trainer Zoran Barisic: "We've put in a satisfactory performance against a good opponent and have used the ball well in phases. There’s still small things to work on, for example the way we were less efficient in our play during the second half, but we’re going to work on that."