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Assessing the opposition: Here's everything you need to know about Austria

Introducing the team who could definitively end Ireland’s World Cup hopes.

Austria pose prior to their FIFA World Cup 2014 qualification group C match with Germany.
Austria pose prior to their FIFA World Cup 2014 qualification group C match with Germany.

Style of play

The Austrians play in a style, not too dissimilar to Germany, based on high energy. They have the technical ability to play passing football at a high level, but are not averse to pumping it up the field at times.

Key men

Andreas Weimann: The striker has been at Villa since 2009, gradually breaking into the first team thereafter, and last season establishing himself as a regular in Paul Lambert’s side, scoring seven goals in the process. Weimann has struck up an impressive partnership with Christian Benteke in attack, and is also able to play a more deep-lying midfield role when necessary. The player has also featured in all three of Villa’s games this season, but has yet to open his goalscoring account, albeit against tough opposition in the form of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

David Alaba: The star of the squad, Alaba was part of Bayern Munich’s treble-winning team and can play either left-back or midfield. He is known for his phenomenal pace and invariably plays full-back for Bayern, but generally operates in midfield for his country. It was also Alaba’s last-minute goal that broke Irish hearts back in May (see video below).

Martin Harnik: The Stuttgart player is considered as one of the Bundesliga’s top attackers. He was especially impressive in the 2011-2012 season, managing 17 goals in 34 appearances, making him the club’s top scorer. He managed the more modest return of six goals in 30 appearances last year, but remains one of his country’s biggest threats, having netted nine times in 36 appearances at international level.

Form of players at club level

As mentioned above, Andreas Weimann has no goals yet for Villa, but has at least started all three of their Premier League games.  Martin Harnik has one goal in four appearances for Stuttgart this season, while David Alaba has played in all but one of Bayern’s league games, scoring once in the process. Goalkeeper Robert Almer has featured in all of Energie Cottbus’ games in the second tier of the Bundesliga, as has former Middlesborough man Emanuel Pogatetz for Nuremberg, while György Garics and Aleksandar Dragovic have played every league game for Bologna and Dynamo Kyiv respectively. Andreas Ivanschitz has come off the bench twice for Levante (including their 7-0 defeat by Barca), while Christian Fuchs has been part of Schalke’s disappointing start to the season, getting sent off in their second game against Hannover. Marko Arnautovic had been in and out of the Werder Bremen team before his move to Stoke last week, while Veli Kavlak has played every minute of Besiktas’ league campaign thus far.

What we’ve learned from their qualifiers

YouTube credit: Goal News & Highlights

Like the Swedes, they are a good side on their day, but are also capable of the odd poor performance. While they beat Sweden back in June and gave Germany a tough game at home (only losing 2-1), they did only manage a point away in Kazakhstan. They are also likely to be going into this game feeling relatively downbeat, after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat by Germany on Friday saw their qualification hopes take a big blow.

Interesting fact

Ahead of Euro 2008, a competition which Austria co-hosted, 10,000 citizens signed a petition demanding they withdraw from the tournament, as they feared their team was so poor that they’d be humiliated. However, the side ultimately performed better than expected despite failing to emerge from a tough group, drawing 1-1 with Poland, and only losing 1-0 to both Croatia and Germany.

What their coach has to say about Ireland (via AFP)

Speaking about the last meeting between the two sides: “It looked for a time like we’d go home empty handed again, even though we were the better team.

“I believe it was very important for the morale of the team to get the late goal, to get that point that we needed.”

So just how good are they?

They arguably have a better team than the Swedes on paper, and even boast their own Ibrahimovic-style star in Alaba. However, their results in the group thus far suggest there is a degree of vulnerability within their ranks, and that they are very much a second-tier international side at best.

Squad to face Ireland

Robert Almer (FC Energie Cottbus), Heinz Lindner (Austria Vienna), Ramazan Özcan (FC Ingolstadt 04) Aleksandar Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev), Christian Fuchs (Schalke 04), György Garics (Bologna), Florian Klein (Red Bull Salzburg), Emanuel Pogatetz (Nuremberg), Sebastian Prödl (Werder Bremen), Manuel Ortlechner (Austria Vienna), Markus Suttner (Austria Vienna) David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz), Guido Burgstaller (Rapid Vienna), Andreas Ivanschitz (Levante), Veli Kavlak (Besiktas), Christoph Leitgeb (Red Bull Salzburg) Martin Harnik (VfB Stuttgart), Philip Hosiner (Austria Vienna), Marc Janko (Trabzonspor), Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa FC)

Possible starting starting XI: Robert Almer, György Garics, Aleksandar Dragovic, Emanuel Pogatetz, Andreas Ivanschitz, Christian Fuchs, Marko Arnautovic, David Alaba, Andreas Weimann, Martin Harnik, Veli Kavlak.

Unbelievable comedy of errors ends in stunning own goal>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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