Euro 2024: big teams in the hunt, a signature counter-pressing… five things to know about Austria, the Blues' first opponent

Euro 2024: big teams in the hunt, a signature counter-pressing... five things to know about Austria, the Blues' first opponent

Sabitzer sera l'un des joueurs à surveiller côté autrichien. EPA – CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Feared by the Blues, Austria presents itself with confidence despite injuries. With an atypical game and real dangers, which the France team will have to manage, this Monday at 9 p.m. during their first match of Euro 2024.

An ascending form

Since the end of 2022, Austria has been accumulating results and references. Italy (2-0), Croatia (3-0), Germany (3-0), Serbia or recently Turkey (6-1) fell to them in a friendly or League of Nations. In qualifying for Euro 2024, only Belgium will have done better than hold off with a draw in Brussels (1-1), but above all a success in Vienna (3-2).

To leave the Austrians in 2nd place in the group. A relative absence during pivotal moments which seems a constant. Not qualified for the World Cup in Qatar, they did not progress through the group stage at Euro 2016 and fell in the round of 16 in the next round, beaten by Italy (2-1 ap). But today they remain in seven matches without a setback and in ascending form.

Blues shaken up

Among these references, Austria did not manage to add the French team. But his last match against the Blues outside France left the memory of a solid opponent.

"We had a good time there", remembered Théo Hernandez on Friday. This June 10, 2022 in Vienna, trailing since the 37th minute, the Blues had certainly dominated the second period but they only snatched a 1-1 draw after the entry of Kylian Mbappé ( 83rd). The ax had passed close in the Prater.

Sabitzer, the X factor

Twelve of the twenty-six players in the Austrian selection play in the Bundesliga. Among these regulars in Germany, Marcel Sabitzer is undoubtedly the man to watch.

Best passer for Borussia Dortmund during the recent Champions League campaign which ended in the final (3 assists), the man with the Musketeer look brings all his experience.

Alongside the ex-Leipzig or Bayern player, we must not forget the young attacking midfielder Christoph Baumgartner (24 years old, Leipzig), the veteran Marko Arnautovic (35 years old, Inter Milan) or even the Roc Lensois Kevin Danso (25 years old).

Rangnick, the man who presses

At 65, Ralf Rangnick is still a man who presses. “Der profesor” would even be the pioneer and theoretician of the now famous “gegenpressing”, or very intense counter-pressing, which has become the trademark of its apostles: Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann or Jürgen Klopp.

If his time at Manchester United proved to be a failure (November 2021-June 2022), the architect of the Red Bull galaxy, in Salzburg then Leipzig, advocates flawless intensity to the loss of the ball. Dayot Upamecano or Ibrahima Konaté were notably revealed by the technician in Austria.

Notable absentees

Problem for Rangnick, he has to deal with notable absentees for this Euro. Starting with its captain, David Alaba, seriously injured in a knee. But the Real Madrid player, who won everything with Bayern Munich, will still be in the group.

At 31 years old, the man who is considered the best Austrian player in history was integrated into the staff as an assistant, from "non-playing captain& quot; according to his coach. To this package were added those of Xaver Schlager (Leipzig) and goalkeeper Alexander Schlager (Salzburg). 

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