Rapid took second place in last year’s championship, beating Sturm Graz by a goal difference to get the second ticket to the Champions League qualifiers. Dietmar Kuhbauer’s team started its European journey from the 2nd round, where they faced Sparta Prague. Despite the victory in the first match (2:1), they were eliminated with a 2:0 defeat in the Czech Republic and continued in the Europa League. There they had a much easier task and initially eliminated Anorthosis with a victory at home (3:0) and a painless defeat away (2:1). They also have comfortable qualifying for the playoffs, winning against Ukrainian Zorya in both matches. In the opening round of the Europa League group stages in Thursday, they lost at home by Genk with 0:1. They are very unstable in the Tipico Bundesliga, where they have only two wins in 7 rounds, and were defeated at home by Admira in the last round. They are already 13 behind champions Salzburg and will have huge problems with absence. Coach Kuhbauer can’t count on Stojković, Dibon, Schuster, Ljubičić, Schuster, and Strunz.
Salzburg like every year is the main candidate for the first place. They are in tremendous form with 7 consecutive wins and a goals difference of 19:4. In the first round of the Champions League group stage, they won a point on a hard away trip to Sevilla, where they missed two penalties. I think that will easily crash guests from Vienna as they do in their last 8 matches at Red Bull Arena.