Austria shines with Rangnick's philosophy in statement win

June 22, 2024 7:04 am

[Source: Reuters]

Ralf Rangnick’s transformation of Austria’s style of play was on full show in their 3-1 victory over Poland in Group D, with the team delivering on the German’s fluid, attacking philosophy which has them tipped to make a deep run at Euro 2024.

Rangnick was appointed Austria manager in 2022 tasked with building a new attacking side after they missed out on qualifying for the World Cup under Franco Foda and were unloved by their supporters.

An early proponent of Gegenpressing – counter-pressing to win the ball back as quickly as possible – the 65-year-old succeeded in making Austria a more dynamic side, with only one defeat in their eight matches before the tournament.

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The test was whether they could perform on the big stage.

They did not disgrace themselves in a 1-0 loss to former European champions France in their Group D opener but against Poland they found the space to inflict damage.

Although the two teams covered a similar distance, Poland 111.8 km and Austria 113.2, the value of those numbers is in Rangnick’s side’s attacking runs.

They had 21 runs into the attacking third compared to Poland’s eight, while Austria’s runs into the penalty area numbered 10 compared to two for Michal Probierz’s team.

Unlike tiki-taka, maintaining possession to keep your opponent off the ball, Rangnick’s style is more concerned with getting the ball into key areas up the pitch quickly to deliver the best kind of scoring chance.

That was seen in Austria’s second goal – a few key passes from defence through midfield was all it took as Alexander Prass’s ball from the left wing was brilliantly dummied by Marko Arnautovic into the path of Christoph Baumgartner who fired in.

Even their third goal came from a quick transition and long ball flick-on, which Marcel Sabitzer ran onto before being brought down in the box by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Austria do not have players with the raw speed and technical grace of France but if they use the ball as smartly as they did in Berlin they will be a potent force for anyone, having planted one foot in the knockout stage with the win against Poland.

In other games, Ukraine defeated Slovakia 2-1 and Netherlands and France drew nil all.