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EURO 2016: Austria out to prove they belong

Austria has emerged from relative football obscurity and established itself as one of the genuine 'dark horses' for Euro2016.

Despite lacking the big tournament experience, Das Team had a stellar qualifying campaign. Undefeated through all ten matches and only dropping two points, the Austrians thrashed Sweden 4-1 away from home and also did the double over Russia.

Captain and Premier League winner, Leicester City's Christian Fuchs, will be hoping he can continue his stellar domestic form when he leads a defence that conceded only five goals in qualifying.

The one to watch is Bayern Munich's David Alaba. Playing as a holding midfielder for Marcel Koller's side, Alaba will be granted the freedom to be creative with his passes, and also use his limitless engine to break the lines.

The enigmatic Marko Arnautovic had a big year for Stoke City. The 27-year-old forward could mean the difference for his country, and his maturation over the past 12 months can only better Austria's chances.

Austria will be buoyed by their recent rise to tenth on the FIFA rankings and Tribalfootball believes that this might be the time for Austria to blossom on the big stage.

Austria
(Das Team)

HEAD COACH: Marcel Koller

TRIBAL'S TOP THREE: David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic, Christian Fuchs

WILDCARD: Zlatko Junuzovic.

The Werder Bremen midfielder has become renowned for scoring miraculous free kicks and his ability from set pieces may prove to be a difference maker in tight matches.

HISTORY: This is Austria's second appearance at the Euros after hosting the tournament in 2008, where they failed to make it past the first round.


EURO OVERVIEW

The momentum is certainly in Austria's favor.

Along with their flawless qualifying campaign, they have been drawn alongside Portugal, Iceland and Hungary in Group E in what is considered a weak group.

Austria should have no trouble collecting all three points against Hungary and Iceland and although Portugal are certainly open for the kill with a far more weakened side than we've come to expect over the years, Koller's side would probably prefer to finish second in their group. This means they will most likely face Russia, instead of a dreadful mix of either Belgium or Italy if they finish top of the group.

The aforementioned record against Russia in qualifying should prove an accurate estimate of how things should fare if these two sides meet again.

Unfortunately for Austria, their passage will most probably line them up against tournament hosts and favourites, France, in the quarter-finals. It would be a stern test against Les Bleus but the Senegalese were looking at a more superior French side at the 2002 World Cup, so you never know.

The quarters are certainly an achievable goal for Das Team. Their success will depend on how well their midfielders support the ageing Marc Janko, who is the predicted starter up front. If players like Alaba, Arnautovic and Junuzovic are able to not only set up goals, but also get on the scoresheet themselves, then Austria may cement itself as one of the emerging powers in Europe.


TRIBAL'S FINAL SAY
: Quarter-finalists

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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