According to the paper model, the toughest task in the Nations League group stage awaits the Austria national football team on Thursday (8.45pm / LIVE ORF 1). At Saint-Denis near Paris, the selection will face defending champions ÖFB, who urgently need to win due to the table setting. Despite the outside role, team boss Ralf Rangnick counts on a lot, especially since “Bleus” tied 1-1 in Vienna in June.
The German derives optimism not only from the performance in this match, but also from the appearance before that in the 3-0 win in Croatia and the 1-2 draw at home against Denmark. “We played very dominantly in these three games, and with a few exceptions, we were in control. This will also be a requirement for Thursday,” Rangnick explained, adding, “It is important that we be proactive and as brave as we are in the first leg.”
The French have to play eleven due to injuries, missing notable players such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris, N’Golo Kante or Kingsley Coman. However, Rangnick suspects that many failures mean enormous weakness for the hosts.
“Mbappe is fit and in very good shape and he’s the only one they can’t replace on an equal footing. Anyone else can replace them one way or another. Besides Spain, they have an incredible density and breadth of outstanding talent like no other country,” said the Austrian Football Association coach. He added that he saw the French in a better position than the Iberians in this respect.
In addition, his team also had to deal with massive failures. “At Konrad Laimer, we are missing a player that we cannot replace alone,” Rangnick said. Rangnick stressed that the absence of Sasa Kalajdic, who is currently suffering from a ruptured cruciate ligament, and Kevin Danso, who was suspended against France, is painful.
In terms of the line-up, it is natural that the 64-year-old did not allow any details to be elicited. The first question – the top two contenders were Heinz Lindner and Patrick Bentz – remained unanswered, as did the system. In the June match against France, the Austrian team looked good with a defense quadruple, but this time three defenders can be used. “Basically, we want to be able to play different squads with the aim of qualifying for the European Championship. It should also be on the agenda that we can defend against three or five,” Rangnick explained.
No major surprises are expected in the selection of employees. The national coach declared: “We will put what we think is the best eleven and not try it.” He believes that the match between the Stade de France and Sunday’s match at home against Croatia is important for two reasons. “These are matches that give us some indication of the European Championship qualifiers. We see them as important matches to get points and stay in the first division, but also to prepare for the European Championship qualifiers in the best possible way in the year to prepare.”
In the Nations League, ÖFB is third, two points behind France. If David Alaba and Co win at Saint-Denis, Austria’s place in the first division will be secured prematurely and the world champions will be relegated. “We would like to measure ourselves against the best in two years, but what ultimately matters is the European and World Championships,” said Rangnick.
In the three pre-match training sessions, the team boss kept physical stress within narrow limits and relied on discussions and video studies. So, on Tuesday, a video of about ten minutes appeared for the players, in which the things that were important to Rangnick again were clarified. According to the coach, it was a kind of revitalization. “I think it needed a bit of an explanation,” Rangnick said.
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