Having landed a favourable group, Franco Foda’s Austria side will have hopes of progressing to the knockout stages for what would be a first time in their history.
The Austrian squad is loaded with Bundesliga talent and if things click, will certainly target getting out of Group C ahead of Ukraine, North Macedonia, and even group favourites Holland.
Group C: AUSTRIA, Netherlands, Ukraine, North Macedonia
Manager: Franco Foda
Odds (PP): 90/1
Recent Tournaments: World Cup 2018 (did not qualify), Euro 2016 (group stage)
FIFA World Ranking: 23rd
David Alaba. At just 28, it feels like he has been around forever, having made his Bayern debut aged 17. He will be looking to impress this summer ahead of his move to Real Madrid. His versatility is a huge plus as he has played a lot of his football this season in midfield, where he usually lines up for Austria, due to injuries at Bayern. His experience, leadership and deadly set piece will assist Austria in their attempt to progress from Group C.
Franco Foda has named his 26-man squad, which has a strong Bundesliga feel to it. Just six of the 26 do not play in Germany’s top flight. One of those six, LASK’s Alexander Schlager will play in goals, backed up by another in Watford’s Daniel Bachmann.
Frankfurt’s Martin Hinteregger, Leverkusen’s Aleksandar Dragovic and Werder’s Marco Friedl make up a strong defence. David Alaba could also feature there, at either centre or left back. Monchengladbach’s Stefan Lainer offers plenty of threat down the right.
In centre midfield Austria will be sweating over the fitness of their captain Julian Baumgartlinger. The Leverkusen man was named but has barely played since injuring his cruciate ligament in January, coming off the bench in the 89th minute for a mere jog about in the last game of the season against Dortmund. Leipizg’s Marcelo Sabitzer is a certain to start and will be key to Austria’s hopes.
Also named in midfield are Frankfurt’s Stefan Ilsanker and Wolfsburg’s Xaver Schlager, who could both end up starting should Baumgartlinger lose his fitness battle.
Hoffenheim’s Christoph Baumgartner is named and will likely play in advanced midfield or out wide, making his trademark bursting runs forward which have seen him register 9 goals and 7 assists from midfield this season.
Stuttgart’s target man Sasa Kalajdzic, after an excellent season in Germany, will likely lead the attack over forgotten man Marko Arnautovic. The former Stoke and West Ham forward is now at Shanghai SIPG.
One to Watch
Sasa Kalajdzic. Having barely played in his first season at the club due to a year-long injury, missing most of their promotion campaign the 23-year-old took like a duck to water in his maiden Bundesliga campaign, registering 16 goals and 6 assists as Stuttgart finished 9th upon their return to Germany’s top flight. Great with his head (you’d hope so at 6’7!) he also posseses good control and hold up play and a lethal left boot. He will be looking to translate his club form onto the International scene this summer and fire Austria past the group stages.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Bachmann (Watford), Pavao Pervan (Wolfsburg), Alexander Schlager (LASK)
Defenders: David Alaba (Bayern), Aleksandar Dragovic (Leverkusen), Marco Friedl (Werder Bremen) Martin Hinteregger (Frankfurt), Stefan Lainer (Monchengladbach), Philipp Lienhart (Freiburg), Stefan Posch (Hoffenheim), Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin), Andreas Ulmer (Salzburg)
Midfielders: Julian Baumgartlinger (Leverkusen), Christoph Baumgartner (Hoffenheim), Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim), Stefan Ilsanker (Frankfurt), Konrad Laimer (Leipzig), Valentino Lazaro (Internazionale), Marcel Sabitzer (Leipzig), Louis Schaub (Luzern), Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg), Alessandro Schopf (Schalke)
Forwards: Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai Port), Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg), Sasa Kalajdzic (Stuttgart), Karim Onisiwo (Mainz)