Austria playing on Germans’ superiority complex
Coach Koller admits Löw comments about scoring more will be used as motivation
Austria coach Marcel Koller conducts a training session in Munich yesterday, ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualification match. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters
While Giovanni Trapattoni will be expecting Germany to do him a favour in Munich this evening, Austria are hoping to earn a rare win over their neighbours.
Sitting second in the group, five points behind the leaders, a first success over Germany since 1986 would see Austria take a massive step towards securing a World Cup play-off spot at the very least.
The visitors last won on German soil in 1931 but go into this game buoyed by a win over Sweden in June and in the knowledge that they matched the Germans for much of the reverse fixture last September, only to lose 2-1.
A porous German defence has conceded nine goals in their last three friendly matches, against Paraguay, the United States and Ecuador, and, surprisingly, have never won a World Cup or European Championship qualifier in Munich in four attempts.
A staggering collapse in the 4-4 home draw with Sweden is also fresh in the memory but Germany manager Joachim Löw was in typically bullish humour ahead of tonight’s match.
“We’ll score more goals than we concede against Austria,” he said. “I’m counting on that.”
The Austrian camp admit that confidence is probably justified – particularly considering they lost 6-2 on their last visit to Germany two years ago.
But Austria coach Marcel Koller admits Löw’s comments will be used as motivation.
“He can’t say ‘Austria are favourites and we’re afraid of them – that they’re going to win the game,” Koller said of his German counterpart.
“If you’re number two in the world and you’re playing against the number 55, the gap is quite big.
“In Germany they’re already talking about the World Cup. They’re favourites in our group and the group leaders. They’re going into the game from that position.
“That shouldn’t have any impact on us. Instead it should spur us to focus even more and stand up to them better.”
More than ever, there has been plenty of pre-game interest in Austria and Bayern Munich star David Alaba will find himself in the unusual position of being in the away dressing room at his club ground.
Koller dismissed newspaper reports that Alaba was carrying an injury but also outlined that he liked to give as little away as possible so as not to give the opposition an advantage.
Tonight’s match will be Austrian winger Marko Arnautovic’s last in Germany for some time following his move from Werder Bremen to Stoke City before the close of the transfer window.
Subject of ridicule
The 24-year-old has often been the subject of ridicule in the German press and one editorial this week thanked him for “all the headlines you provided us off the field”.
The former Inter Milan player has plenty of talent and impressed in the win over Sweden. He missed a good chance to score a late equaliser against Germany in Vienna, so he will be highly motivated to do his talking on the pitch.
Germany are without midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ilkay Gundogan and Lars Bender, while Bayern and Germany captain Philipp Lahm is set to earn his 100th cap.
New Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil will be expected to provide Miroslav Klose with the chance to equal Gerd Müller’s all-time record of 68 goals for Germany.