For half-time, Rapid’s dream of ending the titlelessness seemed to have a real chance of being fulfilled. In the end, the 2-0 defeat in the long-awaited Cup final against Sturm was a sporting affair that was okay.
In a cup fight at eye level, a number of mistakes crept in in the second half, which invited Grazer to score several times and were punished twice in the end by Manprit Sarkaria.
On the other hand, there wasn’t a single significant chance – so the sporting calculation was a simple one in the end. In the fourth duel of the season only the fourth defeat of the season remained.
This was more painful than ever before, and even knowing a good half didn’t help.
A half that didn’t provide the momentum
“Everything was fine in the first half, a real cup fight without fear, we threw everything in,” said Marco Grüll.
Also according to Thorsten Schick “we were really good in the game. There were two or three situations… if Grülli takes the ball better on his own in front of the goalkeeper, we would have a huge chance to score. If Burgi doesn’t play Kühni too far, he runs also alone on goal. But we failed to pull the momentum to our side.”
It should remain so until the end that no real danger came down on the Graz goal.
Storm misses opportunities, but creates uncertainty
“Because of the second half, you have to say clearly that Sturm deserved to win. We have to recognize their performance, the team has a lot of quality.”
The second half came – and with it more than one big chance, which Sturm generously let lie. Nevertheless, a turning point in the Hütteldorfer heads.
“Instead of the huge opportunity that Sturm missed giving us a good feeling, they pulled the momentum onto their side,” Schick had to admit.
According to Grüll, there was an uncertainty that made it possible for Sturm to get better and finally score.
Also a psychological thing
According to Zoran Barisic, there may be a psychological problem: “We got ourselves into trouble with actions in the second half. We couldn’t say: We made mistakes, but things will continue. We weren’t that stable. We have to learn from that. “
In the aftermath, however, it is pointless to talk about individual mistakes. Especially Martin Moormann, who had to form a rare central defender pairing with Kevin Wimmer and after a flawless first half was not in the picture in the critical moments, will learn a lot from this game as a young player, “that will take him even further in his career .”
Recognition for the opponent due
Rapids will work through the process, now it’s time to lick wounds for a day or two.
“So shortly after the game it’s brutally difficult to accept,” Schick was as disappointed as all his colleagues. But the sober view that the defeat was okay because of the second half was just as dominant.
“It feels like the more ripped off, clever team won,” said the native of Graz, who himself comes from the youngsters.
So did his coach: “Because of the second half, you have to say clearly that Sturm deserved to win. We have to recognize their performance, the team has a lot of quality,” said Barisic.
And one duel is still pending this season, the last home game in the penultimate round of the Bundesliga in Vienna. Even a possible revenge will not be able to bring back the missed title, but it may represent a piece of the puzzle to save the season goal of qualifying for the European Cup. The next few weeks will have to show that.
SLIDESHOW: Great pictures from the ÖFB Cup final 2023