Rapid fall to two friendly defeats in Belek
Test match defeat against Pogon Szczecin
More than half of the winter training camp in Belek is already over, numerous intensive drills and a successful friendly were already complete, but there were more chances to put the training to practical effect with some more friendly fixtures this week. In the first game of the day, Ferdinand Feldhofer's team faced the second-placed team from the Polish Ekstraklasa, Pogon Szczecin (kick-off 13:00; CET). The second duel would follow shortly afterwards (kick-off 15:30; CET) against the Czech first division team FK Teplice.
With our captain Filip Stojkovic celebrating his 29th birthday on the day, we started the match at the Gloria Sports Arena, five minutes away from our team hotel. The first twenty minutes showed a spirited start with high pressing from both sides, but the scoring chances were missing. But in the 31st minute the time had come: After a flat ball in from Auer, at first Fountas could not get the ball under control optimally, but Grüll took advantage of the scuffed shot attempt and finished coolly into the far corner to give Rapid the lead - 1-0 (31’)! The first goal of the match remained the only notable action of the first half, and after an even 45 minutes the team went into the break with a narrow advantage.
In the first ten minutes of the second half, there were several chances from the Green & White perspective. Petrovic sent a through pass towards Kitagawa, who tried to push the ball past the goalkeeper with a deft touch, but it missed the goal by just millimetres (53’). The next corner kick was dangerous again, before Fountas tried to surprise the goalkeeper with a lob, which ended up on the roof of the net (56’). Ten minutes later, the opponents equalised after a corner kick with an unstoppable shot into the far corner, 1-1 (65’). After a dominant phase from Rapid, keeper Gartler could not hold onto the ball as well as he would have wished after a cross, and so the Poles took the lead 2-1 (78’). In reply, Oswald and Fountas had a double chance, but after a shot towards an open goal, a defender was able to clear on the line at the last moment, denying us our equaliser (79’)! Ten minutes later, Grüll had a chance for a second goal, but his shot on the turn just missed the target (88’). After an even game and a strong performance, we ended up losing out 2-1.
Last-minute friendly defeat against Teplice
In the second match of the day, our Green & Whites faced the Czech first division team FK Teplice in the late afternoon. Richard Strebinger was in goal, Thorsten Schick, Maxi Hofmann, Dalibor Velimirovic and Lukas Sulzbacher were in front of him. Srdjan Grahovac, Nicholas Wunsch, Christoph Knasmüllner and Yusuf Demir formed the midfield, behind Bernhard Zimmermann and Kelvin Arase who were up front.
In a game where there was a high tempo from the beginning, the Hütteldorf team got better and better from the 10th minute on. The starting point was a remarkable switch from Dalibor Velimirovic to Thorsten Schick. Nevertheless, the highlights in the form of scoring opportunities in the first half were mostly half-chances. Christoph Knasmüllner with a free-kick, Bernhard Zimmermann with an assist from Thorsten Schick and Kelvin Arase with a shot from the edge of the penalty area comprised the list of the best chances. The Czechs were only really dangerous once in the first half; a powerful shot from distance just before the break missed the target, but Richard Strebinger would have had it covered in the corner anyway.
After a short breather, both teams went at it straight from the restart. The first goal of the match was scored by FK Teplice, who took a 1-0 lead after an attack on the flank. Philipp Schobesberger celebrated his comeback and after his substitution he was well involved in the game. A good set-piece delivery from him found a suitable recipient in Leo Querfeld, who also came into the game in the second half, but the header flashed past the far corner. The Green & Whites' pressure increased as the game wore on. Dalibor Velimirovic still had great vision in the build-up play, and Christoph Knasmüllner used the gap in the defensive line to run through in between; this was followed by a technical masterpiece from our number 8: he took the ball down with his right thigh and finished first-time with his left foot over the goalkeeper - what an equaliser! However, this only lasted until shortly before the end of the game, because with the last chance of the match the Czechs converted a counter attack to take the lead again: 2-1, and there was the final whistle!
It was a tough end to what was a tiring day, but a large number of Rapid players got a great chance for a run-out across the two friendlies, and the experience will prove useful as we work our way towards full match fitness for the restart of competitive action in the spring. RAPID!