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ÖFB have recently had a good record in their opening matches of the year

ÖFB have recently had a good record in their opening matches of the year

Austria kicks off the European Championship year on Saturday (from 6pm on the live stream) with a trial match in Slovakia.

ÖFB have lost only two of their last ten annual international matches – in 2019 in the European Championship qualifiers in Vienna against Poland (0:1) and in 2022 in the semi-finals of the World Cup qualifiers in Cardiff against Wales. (1:2). . Apart from that there were six wins and two draws.

The first home international of the year will take place on Tuesday (8.45pm) against Turkey. Just over 30,000 tickets were sold for the match in Vienna.

Team boss Ralf Rangnick's hope for a full Ernst Happel Stadium will likely not come true. “An attendance of 35,000 to 40,000 spectators is realistic,” said Bernhard Neuhold, Managing Director of ÖFB-Wirtschaftsbetriebe GmbH. The Easter weekend – a date many regular customers are unable to attend due to the holiday – plays a role.

The Austrians had a successful start to the year under Rangnick last year with a 4-1 European Championship qualifier win in Linz over Azerbaijan. At the end of 2023, there were also three consecutive clean sheets against Azerbaijan (1-0), Estonia (2-0) and Germany (2-0).

'Good signs for us'

After the Slovaks and Turks, ÖFB will be tested in Vienna against Serbia (4 June) and away in St. Gallen against Switzerland (8 June) in their immediate preparation for the European Championship. “We deliberately selected all four competitors in the test match,” Rangnick confirmed. The four teams will be represented at the European Championship in Germany starting June 14. “I think they are good signs for us.”

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In addition, the current international bilateralism also makes logistical sense. After the match in Bratislava, the Austrian FA team immediately took the bus to Vienna. We will stay there until the Türkiye match. “It's also good for us not to have to travel long distances,” said Rangnick, who is currently preparing for the year's assignments with his team in Marbella, southern Spain.

There are at least 13 international matches on the program in 2024. There have only been more in ÖFB history in 2021 (16). While the focus in the first half of the year is on the European Championship in Germany and preparing for it, the focus in the second half of the year is on returning to the first league in the Nations League in a group with Norway and Slovenia. and Kazakhstan – and a chance to participate in the play-off to secure the last four places for the 2026 European World Cup.