The second test of strength with Dinamo is of great importance for the further course of Group H. After three rounds, West Ham United is the undisputed leader with nine points, followed by Dinamo, Rapid and Genk with three points each. The runner-up will play a play-off against a third-placed team in the Champions League for the round of 16, while the third will move to the intermediate stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League. With just one point in Zagreb, Rapid would come closer to wintering in the European Cup.
In order to do that, the performance from two weeks ago must be followed up, said coach Dietmar Kühbauer. “Zagreb was totally surprised that we played a good game and now they want to turn the tables. But we want to do everything we can to ensure that we remain unbeaten, ”said the 50-year-old, who is expecting“ an intense game ”.
Rapid and Sturm hope for points
On Thursday, Rapid and Sturm Graz face different tasks in the Europa League: While Rapid is fighting for second place at Dinamo Zagreb, the Graz team are hoping for the first point win at Spanish front-runners Real Sociedad.
“We have to be good at defense, we have to look forward to our possibilities and show the same passion and mentality as we did two weeks ago,” demanded the Rapid coach.
Start 9 p.m .:
Dinamo Zagreb – Rapid
Maksimir Stadium, SR Beaton (SCO)
Dynamo: Livakovic – Ristovski, Lauritsen, Theophile-Catherine, Franjic – Gojak, Misic, Ivanusec – Menalo, Andric, Orsic
Rapid: Gartler – Stojkovic, Aiwu, Hofmann, Ullmann – Grahovac, Ljubicic – Arase, Knasmüllner, Grüll – Kara
Fountas is missing, Hofmann is there
He has to do without the offensive player Taxiarchis Fountas, who is suffering from a muscle injury. “He can play on the PlayStation, but it won’t run out on the pitch. He didn’t even ride, ”said Rapids coach at the final press conference. For this, captain Maximilian Hofmann is available again despite a broken nose. The central defender and goalscorer in the first Dinamo game last stayed in the dressing room during the 3-2 win against LASK because of a “headache” during the break. “Just a precaution,” said the 28-year-old defender.
Hofmann gave a draw as a minimum goal, “even if it gets difficult. But we want to take something with us, and we can do it. ”Robert Ljubicic made a similar statement. “Despite our home win, Dinamo Zagreb is certainly a slight favorite, but of course we want to perform as we did two weeks ago and also score,” said the midfielder, who is looking forward to the game with particular anticipation. “Part of my family is at home in Zagreb and will also be there in the stadium.”
The aftermath of traveling to London
The Rapid fans, however, will not be in Maksimir – the visiting sector will remain closed due to the UEFA ruling after the events at the West Ham away match. Even without the support of the attachment, managing director Sport Zoran Barisic was confident. “Dinamo are very strong at home and easy to favor, but we definitely think we have chances. If we dare to do something, something is possible, “said the Rapid Sports Director.
On Wednesday afternoon, Barisic was invited to the inauguration of a training area in honor of Zlatko Kranjcar together with business manager Christoph Peschek in Zagreb. “He was an idol for me,” said Barisic about the ex-Rapidler who died last March and with whom he had shared a room as a youth player at a Rapid training camp. Kranjcar was once a player and coach at Dinamo.
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Europa League: Rapid dreams of deja-vu in Zagreb