Nations League: Austria brings fans back on board

Of course, the 44,800 spectators also came to watch the stars from the country of the current title holders on their feet. As a result of another very good and passionate performance, it was also the Austrians who were celebrated with a lap of honor after the end of the game. “We played very well, the fans were great and it was a great game today,” said Andreas Weimann in an ORF interview after the game, summing it up.

“I’ve been waiting for my first international goal for a long time, there couldn’t have been a better game for it,” said the 30-year-old, who had completed a perfectly executed attack in an exemplary manner. In the second half, France successfully pressed for the deserved equalizer, but Austria’s effort was rewarded by the fans. Especially since the Rangnick era continues to give much hope.

Rangnick lives up to expectations

Only six weeks ago, Ralf Rangnick was introduced as the new ÖFB team boss and has changed a lot within a very short time: new staff, new game philosophy and new openness in communication – and with success.

“It wakes people up”

“You win the first game in Croatia, in the second game against Denmark you play really well and lose undeservedly. That wakes people up. We woke people up with our game. You saw what we’re capable of against France too. But we need the fans for that,” said David Alaba, who also appealed to them to keep it that way in the future.

The dissatisfaction with a 1-1 draw against the reigning world champion also shows hunger and ambition. “It just goes to show that maybe somewhere we’re fed up with playing a certain kind of football, like we’ve always had in previous years. You can tell that we want to develop further, that we want to play games like this and compete with teams like that.”

Fans are waiting for ÖFB players

That also picks up the fans. Long after the end of the game, they waited in front of the stadium for autographs from the ÖFB players. The spirit of optimism around the team reached a preliminary peak. It wasn’t that long ago that the ÖFB team played in front of just 1,800 or 6,600 spectators, even though there were no capacity restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The association also chose Rangnick when appointing the team boss because his game idea can generate enthusiasm. When he started, the 63-year-old German focused on two things: entertainment and team spirit. Both offered the duel against the reigning world champion.

Dozens of fans in front of the exit of the Ernst Happel Stadium Kastler

Fans waited for autographs long after the final whistle

“We really didn’t do so badly over long stretches. Of course we know that they are a top team, the reigning world champions, of course it won’t be easy – that was clear to us,” said goalkeeper Patrick Pentz, who also lifted the spirits with his saves and thus moved into pole position as number one . The Noch-Austria goalkeeper smiled several times after his actions, embodying the joy of being part of a game like this. With his dry comment on Kylian Mbappe’s goal, Pentz caused laughter: “You can do it like that.”

Eight seconds create excitement

This also applies to the Austrian opening goal by Weimann. The whole attack cannot better illustrate Rangnick’s game idea. Winning the ball, fast play in depth, conclusion within a very short time. In this case, it was the eight seconds that Rangnick has always used as a benchmark.

It was no coincidence that the players who had played every 180 minutes under Rangnick played a part in that goal: Konrad Laimer and Xaver Schlager. The “Duracell bunnies”, as they are now called, embody the style perfectly. In this case, Laimer ran to Antoine Griezmann, deflected the ball and Schlager was able to wrestle the ball away from Benzema.



Laimer runs into Griezmann in the center, eight seconds later Austria celebrates

“Xaver conquered the ball in midfield and played vertically right away,” analyzed Laimer. “In the second wave he’s played vertically again after I run behind Marko (Arnautovic, note) and give him another option. When all this happens at top speed, it’s difficult to defend. That is of course a great example of how best to solve this after winning the ball.”

Duel between Xaver Schlager, Kylian Mbappe (France) and Konrad Laimer

GEPA/Philipp Brem

“Duracell Bunny”: Schlager and Laimer are unstoppable as a team

That not only made the audience happy, but also the scorer, who had to wait 18 games, but above all almost ten years since his debut, for his debut goal. “Of course we also trained how to break the defence. Marko and Konny did a great job and I really only had to say thank you,” said Weimann, who earned his money in the England Championship at Bristol, and how Gernot Trauner, Kevin Danso and Maximilian Wöber are now using his second chance in the team.

Late compensation only spoils the mood to a limited extent

Austria conceded late, but also deserved the equalizer. In the first half the opponents were kept in check, hardly anything was allowed, after the break the French dominated. “Kylian Mbappe or Christopher Nkunku come from the bench, it’s just an incredible team,” said Pentz. “Once you’re careless and then he (Mbappe, note) just keeps his speed.”

That didn’t spoil the atmosphere in the stadium, in the end the fans celebrated the team for their performance. Although Rangnick rightly criticized the creation of the goal from his own free kick (by the way, the goal also came eight seconds after losing the ball), everyone was able to live with the result. “We knew we had to play even better than in the first two games. I think we did the same and deserved a point in the end. We can certainly be satisfied,” said Weimann.

New self-confidence spurs everyone on

But one or the other quarreled even more. Laimer also belongs in this category. “If we do a few things better, we can also win all three games, which would be amazing against these teams. We must also do better in the near future, namely that we reward ourselves for what we invest.” The increased demands, the self-confidence of the team spurs on the supporters in the stands visibly and audibly.

Austria’s national team is also traveling to Copenhagen to win the game on Monday (8.45 p.m., live on ORF1). “Our aim is to go into every game to win it. That will also be the case in Denmark,” emphasized Laimer explicitly. The bitter 1: 2 from last Monday also provides extra motivation. “We’re dying for revenge,” emphasized Pentz. After a lot of understatement, announcements like these are also well received by the supporters.

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