Dundalk opposition analyst Shane Keegan feels his side has what it takes to open their account in Group B on Thursday by taking something from Rapid Wien at the Allianz Stadion but is wary of a backlash from the Austrians.
Both sides go into Thursday’s game without a point on the board to date following respective defeats against Arsenal and Molde but Keegan is wary of a backlash from the Austrians, who lost 1-0 in Norway on Thursday night in a defeat that was more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests.
Keegan feels whether or not Greek international Taxiarchis Fountas returns from injury or not could be massive for Rapid, who currently sit second in the Austrian Bundesliga, two points adrift of league leaders Red Bull Salzburg who they meet on Sunday.
“I don’t think I’m saying anything that Rapid wouldn’t agree with, they had a horror against Molde,” said Keegan.
“By their own standards, they were really, really poor. When you look at their Arsenal performance you’re saying these guys are really excellent and we’re going to have our work cut out here. Then when you look at the Molde performance, you’re saying these are no great shakes at all.
“The two European performances were very much Jekyll and Hyde but the one thing you would probably take into it is that the guy who scored against Arsenal, Fountas, who from my analysis so far appears to be their best player missed the Molde game so he would take a significant amount from them. It’ll be interesting to see if he comes back in because he was 50/50 for the game on Thursday night but I assume they’d be hoping to have him back against us.
“From their perspective they would have to be looking at last Thursday night as a blip that they have to fix as quickly as possible but we’re not going in with any fear. It’s going to be a really, really tough game but we will be going in believing we can pull something off in it.
“Despite two opening defeats, I don’t think it’s beyond the possibilities for us to rally and get something from the group,” he said.
Asked what to expect from Dietmar Kühbauer’s side, the Portlaoise man said: “They’ve been an interesting team to analyse. Heading into Sunday’s game they had played five different formations over their previous five games so from an analyst’s point of view it’s kind of head scratching as to what to expect from that point of view.
“They’re a quality side though. It would have been a big shock for them to lose to Molde last week because they were firm favourites to win that one but they did bounce back with a 3-1 win in the league. They’re a really good side and they’re going to have the bit between their teeth now having lost last week.
“We have nothing to fear though. I felt that we were very much in the game against Molde. Yes, they were very good for that 20 minute period at the start of the second half but that was the only period of the game where they really bossed us.
“All statistics are showing at the moment that home and away makes very little difference with the lack of crowds so I’d believe that we can put it up to Molde 100% when we go back out there and if you go on horse racing form and you see that Molde beat Rapid then you believe that we should be well in the game in the home and away games against them as well,” said Keegan.