UEFA Euro 2020

Austria Euro 2020 preview: Key players, strengths, weaknesses and expectations

Ross Jackson
Jun 9, 2021, 11:00 AM GMT+1
Austria will face the Netherlands, Ukraine and North Macedonia in their Euro 2020 group
Austria will face the Netherlands, Ukraine and North Macedonia in their Euro 2020 group / Christian Hofer/Getty Images
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Even though you probably wouldn't consider Austria among the international powerhouses of European football, it might come as something of a surprise to learn they've never won a game at the Euros.

In fact, they've only appeared in two European Championship finals - once in 2008 after qualifying as hosts and then again in 2016 - being dumped out at the group stages on both occasions with a whopping combined total of two points and just two goals.

Franco Foda's men have the chance to improve their dismal record this summer as they take their place in Group C alongside the Netherlands, Ukraine and North Macedonia, and here's everything you need to know about the Austria team.

Route to Euro 2020

The Austria team celebrate their Euro 2020 qualifying win over Slovenia
The Austria team celebrate their Euro 2020 qualifying win over Slovenia / Chris Bauer/Getty Images

Austria's route to Euro 2020 was far from smooth, with defeats to Poland and Israel in their opening two qualifiers leaving them with a mountain to climb if they were to book their place at back-to-back European Championship finals for the first time in their history.

A nervy 1-0 win over Slovenia on matchday three finally saw them get some points on the board, and the win kickstarted their campaign as they went unbeaten in their next seven outings, picking up six wins in the process.

Defeat to Latvia in their final group game brought the unbeaten run to an end, though with their place at Euro 2020 already secured the loss did little to dampen Austrian spirits as they finished second in the group behind Poland.

Strengths

Marko Arnautovic will be key to his country's hopes
Marko Arnautovic will be key to his country's hopes / Christian Hofer/Getty Images

On paper Austria look to have a number of decent attacking threats.

Marko Arnautovic, Sasa Kalajdzic, Marcel Sabitzer and David Alaba - who plays in a more advanced role for his country - have all proven themselves capable of grabbing a goal, though whether they'll be allowed the freedom to showcase their ability remains to be seen - more on that shortly.

Austria's number one spot is a position that certainly seems to be up for grabs, but given Daniel Bachmann started both his side's warm-up games it looks like he'll get the nod.

The Watford man deputised for Ben Foster in the second half of last season and looked very solid, and he could be key to his side's chances of progressing.

Weaknesses

Franco Foda has been criticised for his rigid tactics in the past
Franco Foda has been criticised for his rigid tactics in the past / EuroFootball/Getty Images

Arguably Austria's biggest weakness will be sitting in the dugout as they take to the field for their first game of Euro 2020 against North Macedonia.

While Austrian boss Foda has experimented with his setup in friendlies, he's refused to divert from a 4-2-3-1 system in competitive matches and it's seemingly a system that doesn't bring the best out of his star men.

Aside from their manager's rigid tactics, Austria's over-reliance on frontman Arnautovic could be cause for concern heading into this summer's tournament.

Other than the former West Ham man, no player scored more than two goals for Austria in their ten qualifying outings, and given Arnautovic's infamously erratic form they could struggle to score the goals needed to progress from Group C.

They've not looked particularly solid defensively of late either, with a 0-0 draw against Slovakia in their final warm-up game their first clean sheet in six outings - a run which included shipping four against Denmark.

Players to watch

Christoph Baumgartner could be a big player for Austria this summer
Christoph Baumgartner could be a big player for Austria this summer / Christian Hofer/Getty Images

Given some of the household names on Austria's squad list, Christoph Baumgartner is likely to go a little under the radar, but that may just work to his advantage.

The Hoffenheim midfielder's six goals and five assists in the Bundesliga this season might not look like an eye-watering return, but when you consider his side's subpar campaign he's definitely one to watch this summer.

Aside from Baumgartner Austria really will be depending on their big guns at Euro 2020 and if the likes of Alaba and Arnautovic don't turn up it could be a very swift exit.

Final squad

Goalkeepers: Pavao Pervan (Wolfsburg), Alexander Schlager (LASK), Daniel Bachmann (Watford)

Defenders: Aleksandar Dragovic (Bayer Leverkusen), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt), Stefan Lainer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Andreas Ulmer (Red Bull Salzburg), Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin), Stefan Posch (Hoffenheim), Philipp Leinhart (Freiburg), Marco Friedl (Werder Bremen)

Midfielders: Julian Baumgartlinger (Bayer Leverkusen), Stefan Ilsanker (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valentino Lazaro (Borussia Monchengladbach), Alessandro Schopf (Schalke), Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim), Louis Schaub (Luzern), Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg), Christoph Baumgartner (Hoffenheim), Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig)

Forwards: Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai Port), Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig), Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg), Karim Onisiwo (Mainz), Sasa Kalajdzic (Stuttgart)

Predictions

David Alaba will be a huge player for Austria
David Alaba will be a huge player for Austria / Christian Hofer/Getty Images

There's so much to like about Austria's squad on paper - and they've been handed a favourable group including Ukraine and North Macedonia - though their form of late has not been impressive.

It's obviously all ifs and buts, but if their big players turn up and are given the chance to express themselves they could honestly cause a few upsets, though it seems a bit of a stretch and reaching the early knockout rounds before making their exit looks a more likely scenario.

Prediction: Last 16

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