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Euro 2020
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Austria Euro 2020 Preview

The long-awaited Euro 2020 will kick start in just under a week. Austria kick starts their campaign against North Macedonia next week. In the nations league, Austria have won 7/8 games. However, the last time they featured in a big tournament was 206 where they went out in the group stages – so it will be a tough ask for Austria to go very far considering their recent international record.

Austria’s squad

GK – Daniel Bachmann – Watford

– GK – Alexander Schlager – Lask

– GK – Pavao Pervan – VFL Wolfsburg

– DF – Aleksander Dragovic – Bayer Leverkusen

– DF – Marco Friedl – Werder Bremen

– DF – Martin Hinteregger – Eintracht Frankfurt

– DF – Stefan Lainer – Borussia Monchengladbach

– DF – Phillip Lienhart – SC Freiburg

– DF – Stefan Posch – Hoffenheim

– DF – Christopher Trimmel – Union Berlin

– DF – Andreas Ulmer – RB Salzburg

– MF – David Alaba – Bayern Munich

– MF – Julian Baumgartlinger – Bayer Leverkusen

– MF – Christoph Baumgartner – Bayer Leverkusen

– MF – Florian Grillisch – Hoffenhim

– MF – Stefan Ilsanker – Eintracht Frankfurt

– MF – Konrad Laimer – RB Leipzig

– MF – Valentino Lazaro – Borussia Monchengladbach

– MF – Marcel Sabitzer – RB Leizpig

– MF – Louis Schaub – FC Luzern

– MF – Xaver Schlager – VFL Wolfsburg

– MF – Alessandro Schopf – FC Schalke

– FWD – Marko Arnautovic – Shanghai Port FC

– FWD – Michael Gregoritsch – FC Ausburg

– FWD – Sasa Kalajdzic – VFB Stuttgart

– FWB – Karim Onisiwo – FSV Mainz

– Manager – Franco Foda.

Standout players for Austria:

David Alaba.

The versatile veteran Alaba has been at Bayern Munich for over 10 years – but that will be coming to an end on 1st July as he has a pre-agreement to join Real Madrid. He has occupied various defensive positions for club & country; playing at LB, as a DM/ box to box midfielder (particularly in a pivot), and as a CB which has become more apparent this season for Bayern. He has been such a useful player over the years for Bayern – with his standout characteristics being his ball-carrying ability, passing range and his all-round abilities which make him perfect for a number of roles. This gives Franco Foda different options with his Austria squad – utilising Alaba in a number of ways.

Despite being at Bayern for so long, Alaba is still only 28, so is in his prime years and can still offer top footballing quality for a long time – both at the Euros for Austria & for new club Real Madrid.

Marcel Sabitzer.

Another very versatile player who played in the Bundesliga this season – who Austria are very lucky to have. The experienced Sabitzer has played as a false 9, in a pivot, as an 8/10 – proving his use as a utility player who excels as a midfielder for club – but is usually used as a forward – in a 2 striker formation for Austria. if Austria are to do well in the euro’s, you can expect Sabitzer to play a huge role. One of his standout attributes is his venomous shooting technique – which is often accurate and very hard to stop.

This was shown in the most recent friendly vs England where Sabitzer hit the bar and forced a good save from Pickford. His play style to want to drop deep benefits this – as his positioning provides him with the spaces to let loose from range. his runs into the box and all-around game make him a big threat for Austria. 27 years of age, he is approaching his prime years so will continue to be a useful asset to any team.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA – MARCH 28: Marcel Sabitzer of Austria on the ball during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Austria and the Faroe Islands on March 28, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. Sporting stadiums around Austria remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

Sasa Kalajdzic.

The Austrian forward will form a two-man strike force with Sabitzer. He has enjoyed a great debut season – getting 16 goals and 5 assists in 33 games, showing why the interest from big European clubs like Juventus is justified. At only 23, he has unleashed another top talent.

The out and out 9 comes in at 6’7 in height – which unleashes a very rare attribute that few have to such a degree. His height makes set pieces a very viable way of scoring for Austria. He has been a big part of Stuttgart finished 9th, proving an important player in the 3 back for club – a similar system used by Austria. 2021 has been even more standout for him – with only Lewandowski, Andre Silva, Haaland, Weghorst & Kramaric scoring more – putting him in a good category. A gem of a talent who may catch the eye of many at the Euros this summer for Austria – truly one to watch.

How Austria will likely lineup:

Manager Franco Foda often lines Austria up in a 442 format – in a compact shape which is hard to play against. Thanks to the different skill sets in the team, Austria can and have transitioned to a 3 at the back – where Alaba & Laimer would be the forward fullbacks & Friedl would drop into the back 3 – as shown against England. The recent friendly showed how Austria are tough to breach in their shape and shows that a 3 back against the teams better than them could be suited – to nullify the opposition and maintain a counter-attacking threat.

Austria had very few chances during this game – which could lead Foda to prioritise the 4 back, where they have more control over the games. This is the system I’d expect them to use most of the time – with the wide players more defensive-oriented – i.e. Laimer or Baumgartlinger. This enables Austria to stay compact defensively and not be outnumbered to lose control in games. In addition, the aerial ability of many in the squad enables a more pragmatic and direct approach to be used if needed, to utilise the height of Kalajdzic to use as a target man or even Arnautovic as a substitute option.

What can be expected of Austria:

Austria sit in a group with North Macedonia, Ukraine & Netherlands. Group C looks to be one of the toughest and more underrated groups of the tournament – which should make for a very enjoyable watch. it is hard to pinpoint an exact finish for Austria as the group looks very competitive and fairly evenly poised – however a guess would be they scrape out the groups and lose in the first knockout round.

Regardless, Austria have a good squad, with some standout names and good profiles, different systems which they change to, but the main concern could be the lack of runners. However, Austria’s pragmatic approach could mean this isn’t as important, and if need be the wingbacks of Lainer & Alaba could inject that speed if they chose to go into a 3 at the back. A tough group with a lot of strength in the tournament could be the main reason for Austria not going too far – particularly with the format. Overall, they’ll be a frustrating team to play which has the ability to dictate games and surprise teams, offering height dimensions others may not be able to offer.

The main concern for Austria however, is how they’ve struggled vs any team of a similar level or better than them – but have done well in what’s expected, finishing 2nd in their qualification group. This is only Austria’s second-ever Euros they’ve qualified for, so it will be intriguing to see how they fare against a range of different teams and styles.

Follow @afcmcj on Twitter if you enjoy different articles like this and for more football-related content in a listening format follow @BigSixPod.

Main Image Credits – Embed from Getty Images

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