It seemed clear. Austria must be sandwiched between Croatian rock and crush hit songs based on Vicki Leandros. But attempts to intimidate a musical nature before kick-off were unsuccessful. Soon the sounds faded away above the old Osijek Arena, which consisted only of the lower class. The away team had been honed by new national coach Ralph Rangnick, and the Austrians noted the sensation and didn’t get carried away. Nor were they shy about playing with fire, what happened before is forgotten, take a risk, and what more do you want. In the end, the Reds, Whites and Reds were in each other’s arms – after their eventual 3-0 win away at the start of the Nations League.
Comment: Austria seemed to have changed, as if someone had flipped a switch
In the first few minutes of the premiere, the ÖFB team made it clear that they wanted to keep Rangnick’s word. Austria stood in high gear, Defense Minister Gernot Trauner was positioned in midfield, and the Croats took it as an invitation and didn’t take long to request it. Due to the apparent safety of the ball, they repeatedly created situations that caused distress. The Austrian defense responded with skill and a bit of luck, and could count on goalkeeper Heinz Lindner, who nullified the hosts’ shots. After all, red, white and red, dressed in black, can put needles on. Xaver Schlager proved to be the master of winning the ball, and Rangnick surprisingly called up Andreas Wyman of English second-tier club Bristol City on the left, who proved to be quite versatile.
Croatia created some good chances, but missed them, while Austria proved to be tough and efficient, not letting the home team’s playful power get in the way. On the contrary, he showed self-confidence and presence of mind. Marko Arnautovic received the ball just before the end of the first half, hit a hook and completed a surprising 1-0 lead, this was his 33rd goal in his 99th appearance for the national team.
But after the break, the 33-year-old is no longer around because he was injured multiple times. Rangnick brought in three new players, Grigorić, Siwald and Tremmel, and scored the first in the 54th minute when he completed a superb action organized by Whooper to make it 2-0.
Now, for the first time, what Rangnick had promised also came true, namely to take control of events and make Sabitzer 3-0 after a nice move. Austria rubbed their eyes, and the Croatian masses began to whistle. Rangnick’s premiere was a success. Already on Monday, the top of the table must be defended. Then Denmark comes to Ernst Happel’s court – After winning 2-1 in France with self-confidence.
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