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- Group Stage
Austria's Euro Schedule
|13th June 5pm||Austria v North Macedonia||Bucharest|
|17th June 8pm||Netherlands v Austria||Amsterdam|
|21st June 5pm||Ukraine v Austria||Bucharest|
Road to the Euros
Austria's qualification prospects looked bleak when they kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Poland, and were then soundly beaten 4-2 in Israel. However, while other countries continued to take points off each other, Austria strung together a seven-game unbeaten run that included six wins either side of a vital goalless draw against Poland. By the time they lost their final game 1-0 in Latvia, their progression to the finals was already assured, and the fact that they beat current Group C rivals North Macedonia home (2-1) and away (4-1) should give them confidence in their opening game.
Austria continued that form into last year's Nations League games, where they lost narrowly to Romania, but won four of their other five games, including all three on the road, and ended up top of their group which also included Norway and Northern Ireland. Their form has been something of a decline since then, however, kicking off with a 2-2 draw in their opening World Cup qualifier in Scotland, where they twice relinquished the lead. They managed a 3-1 home win over the Faroe Islands, before being hammered 4-0 at home by Denmark. Their warm-up friendlies began with a creditable 1-0 defeat in England, and rounded things off with a goalless draw with Slovakia, which perhaps suggests a defensive gameplan going into the tournament.
Austria have not won a game at a major tournament for over 30 years, but coach Franco Foda believes he has the squad to put that ghost to rest during the coming weeks. He will build his team around the star qualities of David Alaba, with a defensively-minded plan to stay in games long enough for his team to make an impact in the attacking third the longer the game goes on. Breaking down top tier defences is where Austria tend to struggle, but that might just change in the shape of emerging striker Sasa Kaldjdzik, who bagged 15 goals in 30 games of his debut season for Stuttgart, as well as netting three times in his five international appearances. If he can create an understanding with proven threat, Marko Arnautovic, then that partnership might just solve Foda's attacking problems.
Arnautovic will be vital in the attacking third, but if Austria are to emerge from this difficult group, then they will probably have to do so more by their defensive obduracy than their attacking prowess. David Alaba has proved for Bayern Munich (and will probably do so again at Real Madrid next season) that he is equally at home as a left back or a central defender, but he will probably find himself in a more productive midfield role for his country. From there he can support his back line as well as orchestrate proceedings in the middle of the park, and if Austria do well, it will probably mean we will be hearing his name a lot on TV commentary.
Click below to read more about each of Austria's Group C opponents: