Title hopefuls share the spoils
With Rapid hovering below top spot in the tipico Bundesliga, a real test awaited them on Sunday in the shape of the visit to the capital of RB Salzburg. Having secured safe passage midweek to the UEFA Europa League group stages, the Hütteldorfers were looking for a good performance against tough opposition to keep pace with the early pace setters and hammer out a message about their own title credentials.
With the match having sold out a full two weeks in advance, an expectant and packed out Allianz Stadium welcomed the teams to the field. Mike Büskens' side were looking to get one over their old foes on home turf for the first time since the 2014 victory in the old Gerhard Hanappi Stadium. Richard Strebinger again took his position in goal - an increasingly familiar sight these days - otherwise Rapid named the same team that had done so well in previous weeks.
In the blazing sunshine both teams began the match full of commitment and passion, with the game characterised in its opening stages by heavy tackles, battles for the second ball, and aerial duels. When chances in front of goal did materialize, it was the guests who were having the lion's share: Berisha hit the cross bar with a free-kick (12.); whilst Strebinger kept out an effort from Wanderson after the Salzburg man had gotten the better of Mario Pavelic (15.). Laimer then threatened Strebinger's goal with an attempted chip (17.), before the Rapid custodian was again called into action to repel a deflected shot from Wanderson (30.). At the other end Salzburg keeper Walke was only tested on a couple of occasions as he dealt with a cross from Arnor Traustason (22.), before denying Joelinton from a tight angle in the minutes before half time (43.).
The Green & White bench brought Tamas Szanto into the fray for the second half in place of Stefan Schwab, as they sought to inject more forwards momentum into Rapid's performance. Despite getting on the ball and probing the Salzburg defence, the Hütteldorfers were struggling to make headway, and an off target Louis Schaub attempt was largely as good as it got for the home fans (56.). Shortly before Schaub's effort, Salzburg’s Brazilian Wanderson should have done better with an effort that he dragged past the post when well positioned to work Strebinger.
The intense engagement on the pitch continued into the closing phases, with the game often denied rhythm as a string of players required treatment on the pitch. Rapid managed one further attempt - an effort from Joelinton that went wide of the target - but the game remained 0:0 with defences coming out well and truly on top. Both sides will feel satisfied with a hard earned point from an intense encounter.
tipico Bundesliga, 6th round:
SK Rapid - RB Salzburg 0:0
Allianz Stadion, 25.300 Attendance, Ref Hameter
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Schößwendter, Dibon, Schrammel - Mocinic, Grahovac - Schaub (83./Murg), Schwab (46./Szanto), Traustason - Joelinton;
RB Salzburg: Walke - Lainer, Caleta-Car, Hinteregger, Ulmer - Upamecano - Wanderson, Laimer, V. Berisha, Lazaro (89./Samassekou) - Dabbur (79./Gulbrandsen);
Yellow Cards: Mocinic, Joelinton, Schrammel; Lainer, Upamecano, Caleta-Car