Germany’s defensive woes offer ray of hope for Austria

But Munich match-up still a daunting task as last victory over neighbours was in 1986


Germany’s recent defensive debacles may give Austria some encouragement as they attempt to end a run of eight successive defeats against their larger neighbours in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier.

Joachim Löw’s team conceded nine goals in three friendlies during the summer, including three at home to Paraguay last month and four away to the United States in June.

But the match in Munich still represents a daunting task for Austria, whose long-term decline has turned the once-compelling fixture into something of a damp squib.

Austria’s last win over Germany was in 1986 and the last time they avoided defeat was a goalless draw 21 years ago.

When they visited Germany in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign two years ago, they came away battered and bruised after a 6-2 defeat.

Their performance in European Group C, however, has been encouraging and they are locked in an intriguing battle with Sweden and the Republic of Ireland for second place and a two-leg playoff against another European side.

Löw is certainly familiar with Austrian football as he won the league with Tirol Innsbruck in 2002, only to lose his job when they club were declared bankrupt. He then spent a season at Austria Vienna, his last job in club football before becoming Germany’s assistant coach in 2004.

“Everyone knows that our neighbours are always enormously motivated for a match against Germany,” said Löw. “Austria are distinguished by their good pressing and the way they can switch play quickly.

“The influence of my esteemed colleague (Austria coach) Marcel Koller is clearly recognisable.”

Nine of the Austrian squad are based in Germany, including Bayern Munich midfielder David Alaba, who will be playing at his Allianz Arena home.

“I’ll have to make sure I turn left instead of right when I get inside the stadium,” he told Austrian media.

“A sensation is possible,” he added. “We have already shown that we play good football and can cause problems for the best teams.”

Löw also criticised Real Madrid for selling Mesut Ozil to Arsenal, although he feels the attacking midfield will benefit from the move.

Ozil’s Germany team-mate Sami Khedira said he regretted his club’s decision to sell the 24-year-old and Low has echoed his sentiments by questioning Madrid’s decision.

“For me, it’s incomprehensible that Real would sell one of their top scorers.”

However, he described Arsenal as a “strong team who play technically high-quality football”.

With Ilkay Gundogan and Bastian Schweinsteiger both injured, Khedira “has got to give the commands” on the field, according to Löw.

“Either (Lars) Bender or Toni Kroos will play alongside Khedira, but I haven’t decided who yet.”