MX23RW : Monday, August 2 21:28:22| >> :600:560392:560392:
Jul 20, 2021 at 7.30pm UK at Allianz Stadion
Rapid ViennaRapid Vienna
2-1
Sparta PragueSparta Prague
Knasmullner (63', 71')
Ullmann (23'), Wimmer (33'), Stojkovic (41'), Grahovac (86')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Krejci (3')
Stetina (17'), Hancko (60')

Preview: Rapid Vienna vs. Sparta Prague - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Rapid Vienna and Sparta Prague, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two famous names of European football clash on Tuesday, as Rapid Vienna welcome Czech champions Sparta Prague to the Allianz Stadion.

This second Champions League qualifying round encounter sees the side that trailed in 15 points behind Austrian Bundesliga winners RB Salzburg last term hosting visitors who also finished runners-up, well adrift of unbeaten rivals Slavia Prague.


Match preview

Rapid Vienna's Maximilian Hofmann celebrates with teammates after scoring against Dundalk on November 5, 2020© Reuters

With at least 14,000 tickets already sold, Rapid Vienna will get their Champions League campaign underway this week, benefiting from the support of a partisan home crowd as European football continues to cautiously re-open its gates.

The Hutteldorfer may have been once more left trailing in the wake of RB Salzburg in the league last season, but a second-placed finish - ahead of Sturm Graz by the narrowest of margins - was enough to seal a place in the second qualifying round of Europe's elite competition.

In the build-up to this two-legged tie, Rapid recorded a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Wiener Viktoria in their first competitive game of the 2021-22 season last Friday. That win in the first round of the Austrian Cup was certainly aided by a Viktoria player being dismissed on the half-hour mark, but should nonetheless prove a useful workout ahead of Sparta's visit.

In all, the Austrian side have lost just one of their six friendly outings this summer, which included a draw with Lokomotiv Moscow and a win over FC Copenhagen.

Preparations, though, may have been disrupted by the long-expected departure of prodigiously talented forward Yusuf Demir to Barcelona last week. Predictably labelled 'the Austrian Messi', teenager Demir signed for the Catalan giants on a season-long loan with an option to make his stay permanent next summer.

Coach Dietmar Kuhbauer will therefore have a significant hole to fill in his creative department ahead of their two upcoming European ties and the opening day of the new Bundesliga season.

Sparta Prague's Lukas Julis celebrates scoring against Celtic in the Europa League on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Sparta Prague, meanwhile, are yet to take part in a competitive match this summer, with their last game of any significance being May's Czech Cup semi-final defeat to city rivals Slavia.

Their most recent outing in the pre-season period ended in a 2-2 friendly draw against Dynamo Moscow last Monday, which followed a 3-2 loss to Wolfsberger AC, who finished fifth in Austria last term.

Prior to that minor setback, Sparta had previously ended the 2020-21 league campaign on a high, with five straight victories, and gone on to win four out of four friendly matches upon their return.

Much of their late-season form, which saw them pip Jablonec to second spot on the podium, was due to the sparkling form of 18-year-old Adam Hlozek, who registered a remarkable 15 goals and eight assists from just 19 league games for the Letensti - enough to seal a place in the Czech squad at Euro 2020.

Described as an "exceptional striker" by Sparta boss Pavel Vrba, the much-admired youngster may soon follow the path of his Viennese counterpart Demir, by joining a big-name club in one of the continent's 'top five' leagues. For now, though, he is set to spearhead his team's ambitions of reaching the group phase for the first time since 2005.

Rapid Vienna form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W

Sparta Prague form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D



Team News

Rapid Vienna manager Dietmar Kuhbauer pictured on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Home manager Didi Kuhbauer must manage without Barcelona-bound Yusuf Demir, so former Barnsley attacking midfielder Christoph Knasmullner may keep his place after scoring in Rapid's cup win last week.

Centre-back Kevin Wimmer - once of Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur - should feature in the home side's rearguard, with goalkeeper Richard Strebinger providing the last line of defence.

Winger Philipp Schobesberger will not be involved but is back in training again after 20 months out of action. Having not played a game at professional level for approaching two years, his comeback attempt after a cruciate ligament rupture failed in March, but the 27-year-old could feature if Rapid progress to the next round.

Sparta Prague's chief attacking threat Adam Hlozek finished as the Czech League top scorer last season, despite missing 15 games with injury, and should now have recovered from his international commitments at the Euros.

Meanwhile, veteran forward Libor Kozak and Ghanaian striker Benjamin Tetteh both left the club during the summer, but the retention of Slovakia defender David Hancko - now on a permanent deal - and new arrival Casper Hojer have strengthened head coach Pavel Vrba's options and both could start.

Rapid Vienna possible starting lineup:
Strebinger; Stojkovic, Wimmer, Hofmann, Ullmann; Schick, Grahovac, Petrovic, Knasmullner; Fountas, Kara

Sparta Prague possible starting lineup:
Nita; Wiesner, Celustka, Hancko, Hojer; Stetina; Dockal, Krejci, Pavelka, Hlozek; Julis


SM words green background

We say: Rapid Vienna 2-2 Sparta Prague

Considering their geographical proximity and pre-eminent status throughout much of the last century, it is surprising that these clubs have not met more often, with four of their six encounters taking place in the late 1920s.

On this occasion, the first leg could be an open affair, as both sides have scored frequently in pre-season and away goals are no longer a factor ahead of next week's return game.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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How you voted: Rapid Vienna vs Sparta Prague

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Draw
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Sparta Prague
30.3%
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Yusuf Demir in action for Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on December 3, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina29171662
United StatesUnited States22251764
JapanJapan1761033
AustraliaAustralia1441533
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events


DIVING
· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

ATHLETICS
· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

SAILING
· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

FOOTBALL
· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

CYCLING
· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

BOXING
· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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