Rapid Vienna boss praises Rangers’ ‘new style’ but insists pressure on them

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Rapid Vienna boss Dietmar Kuhbauer insists the pressure is all on Steven Gerrard’s Rangers as the race to reach the Europa League last 32 goes to the wire.

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Steven Gerrard greets Dietmar Kuehbauer, head coach of Rapid Vienna, prior to the match at Ibrox earlier in the Europa League campaign. Picture: Getty

Steven Gerrard greets Dietmar Kuehbauer, head coach of Rapid Vienna, prior to the match at Ibrox earlier in the Europa League campaign. Picture: Getty

Gers need a win at the Allianz Stadion on Thursday night if they are to extend their European campaign beyond Christmas for the first time since 2011.

However, the hosts only require a draw to escape Group G and Kuhbauer reckons that gives his side the edge going into the final game of their section.

He said: “We are aware of the fact that Rangers have a great team.

“They don’t play the old style from the past, they don’t play kick and rush. They like to play football and can play many styles.

“But we know we also have great players and that we can score goals.

“And I think Rangers are more under pressure because they have to win the match.

“The longer we manage to keep a clean sheet, the better it is for us.”

But the Rapid head coach shrugged off suggestions he might play for the draw which will see his team through.

Kuhbauer - who confirmed defender Mario Sonnleitner will sit out the clash through injury - said: “We might be in a better position than Rangers with us being ahead in the group right now, but it’s too dangerous to play for just one point.

“We can’t only react. This is now what we want to do. If we do, it might become a very close match and we don’t want that.

“We know we can score goals and defend well against Rangers and if we do that, we can qualify for the next round.

“I don’t need to motivate the lads - they know they can achieve something very special tomorrow night and this will be motivation enough.”

Rapid have had a campaign to forget on the domestic front.

They are currently languishing in eighth place, 25 points adrift of leaders Red Bull Salzburg.

But things have taken a turn for the better since Kuhbauer’s first match in charge against Gers at Ibrox back in October.

Gerrard’s side struck twice in the final six minutes to snatch a 3-1 win that night but Rapid have tasted defeat in just four of the 12 games that followed and the coach is confident his side now have the stamina to see off Rangers.

He said: “I think the physical condition of the team is better. You’ve seen in a few of our recent matches that we’ve been able to score goals in the final minutes.

“We don’t need to run for the 90 minutes but it’s important to be physically strong from the first to the last kick, to fight and to win our duels.

“We can’t let what happened at Ibrox occur again when we let ourselves down in the last 20 minutes.

“I think it will be a very emotional, a very intense match and whoever manages their nerves the best will go through.”