Oleksandr Kucher: Rapid boast athletic aggression

On the eve of the first match of the Champions League play-off round, the Pitmen’s defender has shared his impressions about the upcoming game.

- Oleksandr, the Pitmen have never played with Rapid. What do you know about the Austrian football in general, and Rapid in particular?
- I can assess this team solely on the basis of their last match in the Champions League with Ajax. The Austrian team have worked well; they have beaten such serious opponents. I think for them it is an achievement. Rapid are not an easy team to face: they play with good commitment. At the training camps, we faced with Austrian clubs. All of them display rigid, aggressive football. Most importantly, the team from this country fight to the end! There is another important thing regarding the games with the opponents, whose players you know well; there is room for maneuver. Completely unknown teams should be treated with caution. Because they can present surprises.

- Is it possible to compare Rapid and Fenerbahce? Which of these teams, in your opinion, represent higher class?
- Frankly speaking, this is difficult to compare. Probably, in terms of the players, Fenerbahce are stronger. Rapid are a balanced team that give their all on the pitch. Yes, there are no such stars as at the Turkish club, but the Austrians boast athletic aggression.

- Rapid have recently defeated Austria 5-2. Does it say that the team are now in good shape?
- I think yes. In the last games our opponents showed good results – for example, the match with Ajax.

- Rapid attacked in numbers, making a rapid transition from defence to attack. Are you expecting a similar game from the opponents on Wednesday?
- At the moment it is difficult to answer this question. I can only assume that Rapid will attack at home. In recent meetings, Rapid have scored quite a lot, so I do not think that they will play defensive football.

- Rapid currently have the best goal difference (12-4) in the league. Given this performance, defenders will have a special responsibility, won’t they?
- Defence always bears responsibility. But we need to play carefully and concentrate not only in defence. The whole team should operate in a proper manner: both defend and attack.

- The opponents will try to achieve a favourable result for them in Vienna. Are they more dangerous at home than on the road?
- We will play two matches. Therefore, we must be extremely careful in the first meeting and the second one. We must be concentrated from the first to the last minute.

- In the away match with Fenerbahce, Shakhtar kept a clean sheet, but still did not score...
- Again, you need to play very carefully in all positions. Of course, we would like to achieve positive results in Vienna. Naturally, we are ready for the game. Shakhtar need Champions League.