UEFA Champions League Qualifiers: Rapid Vienna vs Sparta Prague – Tuesday, July 20, 2021

by Boris Angelov | July 20, 2021 |

Rapid Vienna will take on Sparta Prague in the first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round at the Allianz Stadion in Vienna. 

Both sides are placed in the League Path and following Monday's draw, it has been confirmed that the winner of this tie will face AS Monaco in the third qualifying round.

Rapid Vienna Betting Preview 

The Green-Whites recently kicked off their new domestic campaign with a 6-0 win over Wiener Viktoria (third-tier club) in the Austrian Cup on Friday but Sparta Prague represents a completely different challenge. 

Rapid Vienna were runners up for a second year in a row and even though they trailed in 15 points behind Austrian Bundesliga champions RB Salzburg, this seems to be a step in the right direction if they are to end Salzburg's hegemony. 

Since he was appointed as the new head coach of Rapid Vienna in October 2018, Dietmar Kühbauer revitalized the capital outfit and they are in the Champions League qualifiers for the season in a row. 

Dietmar Kühbauer's side have lost just one of their six friendly matches this summer, which includes a draw against Lokomotiv Moscow as well as a victory over FC Copenhagen.

Philipp Schobesberger was ruled out for nearly two full years (20 months) and the 27-year-old winger is back in training. However, he will not feature here but could be involved later in Rapid Vinna's European campaign.

Last season's top goalscorer Ercan Kara is set to lead the line for Rapid Vienna, while domestic wonderkid Yusuf Demir, who registered 9 goals and 3 assists in 32 appearances last season, joined Barcelona B on a season-long deal.

Sparta Prague Betting Preview

Pavel Vrba's side finished second in the Czech First League last season, twelve points behind their unbeaten city rivals Slavia Prague and the experienced head coach, who became Sparta Prague's manager in February, will work to restore their glory. 

Having finished second in the Czech First League, Sparta Prague returned to the Champions League qualifying for the first time since 2016 when they were defeated by Romania's Steaua Bucuresti in the third qualifying round. 

Moreover, Sparta Prague will be looking for their first win in a Champions League match in seven years (since July 2014) – when they beat Malmo 4-2 in Prague but then lost 2-0 in Sweden. 

The Czechs have not been particularly impressive in Champions League qualifications as they struggle to win their qualifying matches. Indeed, they have been eliminated in the Champions League qualifications seven times in a row but they have a decent chance to turn things up.

With that said, Iron Sparta will be keen to join the Champions League groups for the first time since 2005-06 and a strong performance against the Austrians could be pretty morale-boosting.

It remains to be seen whether Pavel Vrba will be able to field some of Sparta Prague's Euro 2020 performers as Slovak defender David Hancko, as well as his experienced Czech counterpart Ondrej Celustka and Czech teenager Adam Hlozek were all involved in their nations' European Championship campaigns. 

Summer signing Casper Höjer is expected to start at left-back, while Lukas Stetina is expected to deputize at centre-back if Ondrej Celustka is not fully fit to start. 

Adam Hlozek, who scored a remarkable 15 goals and eight assists from just 19 league appearances last season, should lead the line for the Prague outfit. 

Possible Starting Lineups of Rapid Vienna and Sparta Prague 

Rapid Vienna: Florin Nita – Tomas Wiesner, Ondrej Celustka, David Hancko, Casper Höjer – David Moberg Karlsson, Michal Sacek, Ladislav Krejci II, David Pavelka, Ladislav Krejčí I – Adam Hlozek. (4-5-1) 

Sparta Prague: Richard Strebinger – Filip Stojkovic, Maximilian Hofmann, Kevin Wimmer, Kevin Wimmer – Dejan Petrovic, Srdjan Grahovac – Thorsten Schick, Christoph Knasmüllner, Taxiarchis Fountas – Ercan Kara. (4-2-3-1)  

Spooky Express Betting Prediction 

Rapid Vienna are +126 moneyline favorites to win the first leg while Sparta Prague can be backed at odds of +172 with BetOnline. A draw is also available at +225. 

Sparta Prague's most recent outing in the preseason period ended in a 2-2 friendly draw against Dynamo Moscow one week ago, which was preceded by a 3-2 defeat to Wolfsberger AC, who finished fifth in the Austrian Bundesliga last term.

They are yet to play a competitive match this summer, with their last game of any significance being May's Czech Cup semi-final defeat to arch rivals Slavia Prague but we expect a completely different approach from them in this one.  

Rapid Vienna, on the other hand, gained momentum with their first official match but it was a comfortable victory achieved against opponents nowhere near Sparta's quality and the Czech vice-champions clearly pose a completely different threat to their Austrian counterparts. 

Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2½ Goals -114 @ BetOnline for 6/10 Units

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