League of Nations: Austria wants to draw the nerves of Croats

“We want to feel in control. This is doubly important against teams like Croatia, who play very well and love possession. If you let them kick the ball, it becomes difficult even to get the ball,” said Rangnick, who tried to infuse the idea of ​​his game into his team. During an intense week. “We want to play a good game and try to win,” stressed Rangnick, whose team, as the underdog in the A1 group with world champions France and semi-finalists Denmark, could be a positive surprise.

“We will do everything in our power to implement the content on the pitch,” Xaver Schlager said on his behalf. This also includes fearlessly getting into a game like this against Vice World Champion Luka Modric. “He’s awesome, a world class player. But he’s not Superman.” Like his predecessor Franco Voda, Rangnick has not revealed anything about his squad up front, with only Champions League winner David Alaba remaining in Vienna after arriving late, Philippe Lenhart absent due to illness.

Nations League starts without Alaba

Ralf Rangnick’s premiere of the Nations League opening match will take place in Croatia without David Alaba. Only the new team boss sees him in the starting line-up against Denmark.

Rangnick for the first time in Osijek

Rangnick’s tenure as head coach of the Austrian national football team began in the city of Osijek in eastern Croatia. The fourth largest city in Croatia, which is located on the Drava River, has just over 100,000 spectators and plenty of green space, which is why the ÖFB team also appeared as a guest at the Gradski vrt (Stadtgarten, NB). Built in 1980 and with a seating capacity of 18,000, the city’s most famous son is Davor Suker, whose world career began with local club NK.

Reuters/Antonio Brunic

Ralf Rangnick made his debut as ÖFB captain at the 18,000 seat Gradski vrt stadium.

Austria now hopes for a positive start to the Rangnick Era. Of course, this will be possible with a win, even with a draw, and as a stranger you can accept defeat yourself, provided that the performance and commitment are correct. Fans crave good-looking football, and Rangnick hopes his players will use their potential to the fullest.

The ÖFB team is 34th in the world rankings. Fly to Osijek, where the current vice world champion and 16th place in the world rankings await. There were just as many defeats for Austria in five duels against the Croats. “Statistics are there to change,” Rangnick said, with the goal of achieving higher things. In the group with the other opponents France and Denmark, they are clearly the underdogs, “but that makes it more interesting. The betting odds don’t matter.”

Alaba beats Croatia

Rangnick hopes to dominate his team, but naturally it will be difficult to do so in 90 minutes against opponents like Croatia. “It’s about capturing the right moments.” He left it open which squad should succeed, plus Martin Hinterger and Florian Grelic, who have long been sick, and Lenhart, who is currently suffering from the flu, only Alaba is missing.

UEFA Nations League

Friday, 8.45pm, live on ORF1

Croatia – Austria

Osijek, Gradski vrt Stadium, SR Kavanagh / ENG

Possible lineups:

Croatia: Levakovic-Juranovic, Kalita-Kar, Vida, Sosa-Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric-Majer, Kramaric, Pricalo

Austria: Lindner – Danso, Trauner, Wöber – Lainer, Laimer, Sabitzer, X. Schlager, Wolf – Arnautovic, Baumgartner

The Champions League winner arrived in Bad Tatzmannsdorf on Wednesday but has not traveled to Croatia and will only return to Vienna on Saturday. “We had a conversation where we agreed that he would stay here,” said Rangnick, whose counterpart Zlatko Dalic had to dispense with Inter star Ivan Perisic.

In the upcoming match on Monday at the Abel Arena in Vienna against Denmark, Alaba will definitely start – as captain. The coach did not want to reveal who would wear the tape in the absence of the Vienna team. Rangnick explained that the captain would select him and his coaching staff, not the team, to save time in this regard.

Goalkeeper theme is still one

Regarding goalkeepers – Heinz Lindner, Patrik Bentz, Martin Freisel are possible – the German did not let his cards be seen. “I realize there hasn’t been a clear number one in Austria lately. We have to see who comes out and who fits the way we want to play better.

On the other hand, it seems more clear, at least the indications that have increased this week, that Rangnick and the coaching team with his long-term assistant Lars Kornica rely on three defenses against Croatia. Feyenoord’s Gernot Trauner is likely to return after more than a year in midfield, before Swansea’s Hans Wolff was able to make his debut on the left in midfield. Striker Marko Arnautovic faces his 99th cap.

Croatia has been warned

The Croatians not only promised to deliver football at full power beforehand, but also warned against challenging the team boss. Co-coach Fedran Korluka has known Rangnick since his last professional position at Luke Moscow 2021. Rangnick was an advisor to the Russians at the time. “I know his philosophy, Austria will go 100 kilometers per hour. If we don’t have the right answer, we will have a big problem,” said Korluka, whose team drew 1-1 with Slovenia and beat Bulgaria 2-1 in March. Chelsea before the start of the Premier League “Austria is a good team and will definitely be even better under the new coach.”

For Austria it is the eleventh game in this competition, which was launched in 2018 to replace the unattractive friendlies. In League Two B, in ten matches, they have six wins, two draws and two defeats. If Austria surprisingly wins the group, they will play for the title in Final Four 2023, and will finally be relegated. For Austria, it is initially considered a stadium, in the Rangnick era the first major goal was EM 2024 in Germany – in the home of the new team boss.

Austria’s international record against Croatia

5 matches – 5 defeats (goal difference 2:9)

April 26, 2000, Vienna (FS): Austria-Croatia 1:2 (1:1)

February 28, 2001 in Rijeka (FS): Croatia-Austria 1-0 (1-0)

May 23, 2006, Vienna (FS): Austria-Croatia 1:4 (1:2)

Jun 8, 2008, Vienna (EM): Austria-Croatia 0:1 (0:1)

May 19, 2010, Klagenfurt (FS): Austria-Croatia 0:1 (0:0)

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