Winter blues: 0:0 in Wolfsberg
As the Bundesliga season ushered in December's traditionally frosty climes, there was little on display in Wolfsberg on Saturday from either WAC or SK Rapid to warm the 3000 or so onlookers. On the back of two home defeats in a week, the Hütteldorfers were looking to arrest a run of 11 encounters without victory against the Wolves, but unfortunately there was often too little on show and the encounter failed to spark into life.
Owing to the red cards administered to Bolingoli and Thanos Petsos last time out, Goran Djuricin was forced into personnel changes: Thomas Schrammel came in at left back; whilst Dejan Ljubicic had sufficiently recovered from concussion to fill the void at the heart of defensive midfield. Additionally, there were starting spots for Max Hofmann and Stephan Auer, who had both returned to contention having served one match bans after accumulating five yellow cards. The travelling Rapid fans would also have been pleased to see a recovered Philipp Schobesberger amongst the substitutes.
In the opening stages both teams struggled to come to terms with the wintery conditions and find fluidity. Thomas Murg found Stefan Schwab, the skipper's shot though comfortably cleared the crossbar in the first action of note (7.). Max Hofmann then guided a header wide from a corner, whilst Joelinton popped up in front of goal but couldn’t supply a finish (27.). With a paucity of real chances at either end, Murg picked up the ball on the edge of the box, but floated a chipped effort wide of the far post (31.). It was of little surprise when the half-time whistle went with the deadlock still intact.
The second half didn't really offer any improvement in terms of quality, with challenges in midfield, misplaced passes and too little dynamism in the attacking third again characterising both teams' offerings. Eventually the home team did manage to produce a couple of shots on goal: Wernitzig drove an attempt into the side netting (50.), before Ouedraogo got his angles wrong, blazing over the bar (64.).
It took until the final quarter of an hour until Rapid finally mustered a noteworthy attacking moment of their own in the second the half, but it could have proved decisive: Joelinton coolly picked out the positive run of substitute Philipp Schobesberger, but with the first genuine opening of the game, Schobesberger failed to convert as WAC keeper Kofler smothered his shot (74.). It was the pivotal moment of the game. Wolfsberg sub Philipp Prosenik had a final sight of goal at the death, but guided his header wide to the relief of his former Rapid team mates (90.).
A point in Carinthia doesn't represent the worst return, but the manner of the performance will have done little to bring Christmas cheer to Djuricin and his coaching staff, who will be hoping for a considerable improvement next week in the final home game of the year against Mattersburg.
tipico Bundesliga, 18th round:
WAC - SK Rapid 0:0
Lavanttal-Arena, 3.028 Attendance, Ref Eisner
WAC: Kofler - Hüttenbrenner, Rnic, Drescher (30./Sollbauer) - Zündel, Rabitsch, Offenbacher, Wernitznig - Flecker (90./Frieser), Gschweidl, Ouedraogo;
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Auer, M. Hofmann, Galvao, Schrammel - Ljubicic, Schwab - Schaub (84./Prosenik), Joelinton, Murg (75./Keles) - Kvilitaia (62./Schobesberger);
Yellow Card: Auer;