“We’re definitely not playing for an X. That’s the worst thing you can do. If you just manage, you become passive, ”said Xaver Schlager on Saturday in the team camp in Seefeld. “If you just want to make it 0-0 over time, that’s the completely wrong approach.”
If Austria wins against Ukraine, the second in Group C would face a duel with the extremely strong Group A winner Italy in the preliminary round in the round of 16 in London. In the event of a draw, the ÖFB team with four points would most likely be one of the four best group thirds. In the first knockout round it would then either be in Bucharest against the winner of Group F (France, Germany or Portugal) or – more likely based on the current course of the tournament – in Glasgow against the winner of Group E (Sweden, Slovakia, Spain or Poland).
The betting odds of the bookmakers on a draw between Austria and Ukraine are in any case significantly lower than in all other outstanding European Championship games.
“Playing for a draw can also backfire”
Florian Grillitsch sees the situation as similar to Schlager. “If you go in with the attitude that you absolutely want to play a draw, it can backfire,” said the Hoffenheim legionnaire. The team is aware of the situation that a draw would be enough for both teams. “That is why it is difficult to say how Ukraine will act – whether they will play wait and see, wait for a moment of change or whether they will lose out.”
The primary goal of the Austrians is to reach the European Championship round of 16 for the first time. “Whether as second or third is more of a luxury,” said Grillitsch. The game would have “huge significance for the whole of Austria, not just football Austria”. In any case, he was in a positive mood. “You live for games like this. Certainly there is pressure, but it is positive pressure. We can win a lot and make it to the last sixteen for the first time. I think that’s a push for everyone. “
“Pure anticipation for the little finale”
Christoph Baumgartner already feels “pure anticipation for the little finale”, as he called it. The offensive man cannot imagine that both teams would start with the attitude that winning points would be enough for them. “I’ve never done that in my life. Probably none of us has done that before, going into the game and saying: ‘Okay, we’re drawing today anyway.’ I don’t think that’s even possible at that level. “
Both teams would try to win the game on their side during the game. “It may then be the case that both teams do not take an absolute risk right from the start,” suspected Baumgartner. “But I do believe that it’s basically our game to build up pressure and score one goal more than the opponent. I am very, very confident that we will be able to do that with our quality. “
Trembling begins with defeat
Konrad Laimer expects the Ukrainians to act wait and see and leave the ball to the ÖFB team. North Macedonia (3: 1) and the Netherlands (0: 2) would have done the same. “We want to go for victory because everything else is not our thing,” said the RB Leipzig legionnaire. “I’m also not a fan of waiting and playing for a draw. I never think that’s a good thing. “
The horror scenario for Austria would be to have to tremble for two days after a defeat in Seefeld, whether as a third party with a negative goal difference you can still stay in the tournament. “Of course we want to change the situation so that we have to sit there with three points after the last game and wait like the others play,” said Laimer. “We want to fix that on Monday.”