Austria enter this Euros with a mixed bag of confidence before their kick off against France on Monday. A squad of intriguing depth, with a couple of key men missing – here’s how the team managed by Ralph Rangnick present at this summer’s European festival of football.

Goalkeepers: Heinz Lindner (Union Saint Gilloise), Niklas Hedl (Rapid Vienna), Patrick Pentz (Brondby)

Defenders: Maximilian Wober (Borussia Monchengladbach), Gernot Trauner (Feyenoord), Kevin Danso (Lens), Stefan Posch (Bologna), Leopold Querfeld (Rapid Vienna), Philipp Lienhart (Freiburg), Phillipp Mwene (Mainz 05), Flavius Daniliuc (Red Bull Salzburg)

Midfielders: Nicolas Seiwald (RB Leipzig), Alexander Prass (Sturm Graz), Marcel Sabitzer (Borussia Dortmund), Florian Grillitsch (TSG Hoffenheim), Florian Kainz (1. FC Koln), Romano Schmid (Werder Bremen), Christoph Baumgartner (RB Leipzig), Konrad Laimer (Bayern Munich), Matthias Seidl (Rapid Vienna)

Forwards: Marko Arnautovic (Inter), Michael Gregoritsch (Freiburg), Patrick Wimmer (VfL Wolfsburg), Andreas Weimann (West Bromwich Albion), Maximilian Entrup (TSV Hartberg), Marco Grull (Rapid Vienna)

As briefly hinted at, Austria come into this tournament in a relatively precarious moment. David Alaba is sidelined with an untimely knee injury, while midfielder Xaver Schlager was hit with an ACL tear just a month ago. The drama has even extended to the head coach Rangnick, as the former Manchester United interim boss was courted for the Bayern Munich job.

These things considered, there are still hopes of a strong run, despite the setbacks and a tough draw. There are positives that can be clung to. Austria impressed in qualification, securing second place in their group behind Belgium, as well as a friendly win over Germany. The tactics have been meticulously plotted, as Rangnick looks to have modified his preferred 4-4-2 formation and mainly relied on 4-2-3-1. His signature strategies are high pressing, fast transitions and intense running, and it arrives as something he implemented in the years at Salzburg and Leipzig, becoming known as the ‘Red Bull philosophy’.

As per the description of the Guardian’s Andreas Hagenauer, the beloved Rangnick has moved past the stereotype that Germans find it tricky to be loved in Austria. As the panic around his potential departure proved, Rangnick has delivered the kind of football the country has long desired, capturing their hearts in the process. So, what of the core of his team? As said, the spine will likely move around this 4-2-3-1 formation, and although injuries have impacted the selection (David Alaba, Xaver Schlager, and goalkeeper Alexander Schlager are all out), Das Team still have strength in important areas.

Brondby’s Patrick Pentz will provide a solid foundation in goal. Replacing Alaba in defence is impossible, yet Stefan Posch, who helped Bologna reach the Champions League this season, is expected to step up and play a big role on the right side. Mainz’s Phillip Mwene compliments the defence in the right-back slot, while Lens’ Kevin Danso and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Maximilian Wober seem to be the likely centre-back pairing. That said, both Feyenoord’s Gernot Trauner and Salzburg’s Salernitana loanee Flavius Daniliuc could feature to provide more defensive grit. Bayern’s Konrad Laimer will anchor the midfield with his understudy Nicolas Seiwald on his right. 

The three further ahead in midfield will likely be led by star-man Marcel Sabitzer, while Romano Schmid and Christoph Baumgartner also provide reputable pedigree at Werder Bremen and RB Leipzig, respectively. Up top, it’s Michael Gregoritsch of Hoffenheim. The striker is responsible for scoring and creating space in the buildup – he is a forward who thrives on confidence and Rangnick provides it. If that falters though, seasoned Inter maverick Marko Arnautovic waits in the wings, for what will presumably be his last international tournament.

Austria begin their campaign against France on Monday at Dusseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena. The Netherlands clash with Austria in the group’s third matchday. That game takes place at Berlin’s Olmypiastadion. The winner of Group D will face the second-best team from Group F, while the second-placed nation will face the second-best from Group E.

GBeNeFN | Max Bradfield

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