Austria’s team boss Franco Foda does not want to deal with possible scenarios before today’s key game (20.45 hrs/live ORF 1) in Slovenia, which would give his team the ticket for the European Championship 2020 in the near future. “It is a great opportunity for the next step,” said Foda the day before the match. “We have already taken many steps.
However, the goal has not yet been achieved. The focus is therefore exclusively on Slovenia – and not on possible arithmetic games. They say, for example, that if the ÖFB team won in Ljubljana in the following home game on 16 November in Vienna against Northern Macedonia, they would already have the chance to fix their participation in the European Championship. Foda didn’t want to know anything about a match point. “We play football”, the German rejected the tennis jargon.
However, the team boss did not deny the importance of the game in the sold-out Stozice stadium. “After the opening defeats, we had almost only final matches,” Foda recalled. After the false start in the qualification against Poland (0:1) and Israel (2:4), his team won four games and drew one in five. “It’s the next game with final character,” said Foda. The experience in dealing with it could be helpful. “We are already confronted with the situation without interruption.
Slovenia, on the other hand, are suddenly under pressure to move after a 1:2 win in Skopje on Thursday. “The constellation for Slovenia has changed a bit,” said Foda. “It’s normal for a defensive team to lurk for their opponents’ mistakes and counter situations. This won’t be possible against the ÖFB team, as the Slovenians have to win in order to keep their realistic chances at the European Championship alive. “I assume that they will be a little more offensive. But we are prepared for that.”
For the Austrians, this could result in an unusual amount of space, which they had not yet found in the latest 3-1 win against Israel on Thursday. “We have to work well against the ball in order to conquer the ball and use these spaces,” demanded Foda. Slovenia are dangerous with fast forward play and have quality in the offensive. “We also want to confirm the overall performance from the last games on the road.
In the foreign country, Poland last scored a 0:0 lead in September. A draw would be enough for the ÖFB team in Ljubljana to maintain second place in group G. However, the decision would probably not be made at home against North Macedonia, but only on the last qualifying day – as Foda had predicted on several occasions. Austria will be guesting at the end of the match on 19 November at the previously unrivalled Latvia’s bottom of the table.
However, Foda and his players announced that they would not be content with just one point in Ljubljana. “We want to win here,” stressed the team boss. “We want to improve our starting position if possible. Marko Arnautovic, who had a question mark behind his assignment on Saturday evening because of his thigh injury, put it this way: “Of course we’ll try to crash their party and make our own party.
All three problem children of the Austrian national team took part in the trip to Slovenia. Arnautovic, Konrad Laimer and Stefan Posch are still questionable for the qualification game for the European Championship on Sunday (20.45). “I hope that all three can play. But at the moment we can’t give a prognosis”, team boss Franco Foda explained on departure.
As expected, Arnautovic did not participate in the final training on Saturday evening. The star striker stood on the pitch in the Stozice stadium, but only completed light individual running training with his running shoes.
Arnautovic’s deployment on Sunday is therefore still questionable. Laimer and Posch look a bit better. The two German legionnaires partly trained with the team, but also completed individual exercises in the media-public part of the unit. Laimer have been plagued with adductor problems for some time. Posch suffered a hip injury against Israel (3:1) on Thursday.
Arnautovic has scored six goals so far in the current European Championship qualification. “Marko is a very important player for our team – by his nature, by his presence,” said Foda. “He has his qualities.” Whether he would replace him with Michael Gregoritsch, Lukas Hinterseer or Marcel Sabitzer in an early role in a negative fitness test in the storm center, the team boss left open for the time being. But he said: “There is always a plan B.”
In the event of a retirement, this must also be the case for Laimer, who was always enormously strong last time in the team. “The midfielder from RB Leipzig described the adductor problems that have been plaguing him for some time. Against Israel he had to leave the field after about an hour. Since then there has been no more stress test. The decision about a mission was difficult to make. “Of course you want to play, but you don’t want to risk being out for months,” Laimer explained.
Instead of the dynamic midfielder, Louis Schaub played against Israel and Christopher Trimmel against right-back Posch. The post-nominated Union-Berlin captain would also be the logical alternative if Posch were unable to play in Slovenia because of his hip problems. It would be Trimmel’s first appearance in the ÖFB starting formation.