09.12.2018 19:02
Team, Bundesliga, Sturm Graz, Match report

Deadlock remains unbroken against Sturm

The last home league fixture of 2018 brought with it a clash with Bundesliga heavyweights Sturm Graz: the Styrian side have also endured a somewhat disappointing season by their own standards, occupying the last position in the top half of the table, three points ahead of Rapid. In front of a bumper 17,700 crowd in Hütteldorf the Green & Whites would clearly need a good win to fulfil the short-term goal of reaching the top half of the table before the winter break. Max Hofmann, Stephan Auer and Philipp Schobesberger were drafted into the starting line-up; Mateo Barac and Andrei Ivan had to make do with places on the bench; while the injured Marvin Potzmann missed out entirely.

There was plenty of commitment and heart on show in the opening exchanges between the two underperforming giants - a positive signal of intent from Rapid that was welcomed by the onlooking fans. The first chance of the evening fell to Rapid and Thomas Murg, who looked to pick out the far corner with minimal back-lift but pushed his effort just past the far post (19.). Christoph Knasmüllner was the next to try his luck, lifting a shot over the bar (25.), before Sturm replied when Hierländer got on the end of ex-Rapid man Schrammel's cross, testing Strebinger from close range (34.). But otherwise but teams largely cancelled each other out and defences remained firmly on top. Disappointing news came out of the dressing at half-time: Mario Sonnleitner continued to experience pain after a collision with an opponent and had to be substituted - whether or not he will be fit enough to face Rangers in the Europa League on Thursday is now questionable.

Didi Kühbauer elected not to make any further changes during the pause and it was Rapid who came out of the traps quicker, as Murg fed a teasing ball across the Graz goalmouth that just needed the finishing touch applied to it (48.). But following the early excitement, the second half began to bear a striking similarity to the first, with both sides showing plenty of passion and determination but the game lacking a touch of overall quality and scoring chances.

 

Things nearly took drastic turn for the worse on the hour mark, when a swift Sturm counter sliced through the Rapid defence and culminated in Zulj rattling the frame of the goal with a powerful low shot. The rebound dropped to Hierländer, who thought he had a simple tap in to give his side the lead, but Thomas Murg somehow got his body in the way and blocked the shot (62.). Just minutes later the Green & Whites threatened via the boot of Mert Müldür, who got on the end of a free-kick, beat Graz keeper Siebenhandl, but was denied by a goal line clearance from Hierländer. The rebound was driven into the side netting by Mateo Barac (71.). Philipp Schobesberger was forced off early with cramp, Deni Alar and Ivan came on for the closing stages but were unable to create the crucial openings. The game finished an honest but unspectacular 0:0 draw.

On Thursday we face Rangers FC in Hütteldorf in a make-or-break match in Europe, before our final engagement of the year which sees us make the short trip across town to take on Austria in the Vienna derby. A big week lies in wait.

(gw)

 

tipico Bundesliga, 17th round: SK Rapid - SK Sturm 0:0
Allianz Stadion, 17.700, Ref Schörgenhofer

SK Rapid: Strebinger – Müldür, Sonnleitner (32. Barac), Hofmann, Auer – Martic, Schwab – Murg, Knasmüllner, Bolingoli (76. Ivan) – Schobesberger (76. Alar);

SK Sturm: Siebenhandl – Spendlhofer, Avlonitis, Maresic – Koch, Lovric, Zulj, Schrammel – Hierländer (83. Huspek), Kiteishvili – Eze (77. Pink);

Yellow Cards: Schwab, Martic, Murg; Zulj, Lovric, Hierländer;