Thursday, July 25, 2024

Rangnick says Austria must believe in hopes of France upset

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 17 Jun 2024

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Ralf Rangnick says self-belief will be vital as his Austria side hunt a major scalp in their Euro 2024 opener against France on Monday.

France are viewed among the favourites to win the tournament, having won the 2018 World Cup and finished as runners-up at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup under Didier Deschamps.

However, Les Bleus have been tasked with a tough draw, with Austria tipped as potential dark horses and the Netherlands beating Poland 2-1 in Group D’s first match on Sunday.

Austria finished just one point behind Belgium in their first qualification campaign under former Manchester United boss Rangnick, who has needed little time to implement his preferred high-pressing style.

Austria allowed their opponents fewer passes per defensive action (8.3 PPDA) than any other team during qualifying, also attacking with the fastest direct speed, moving the ball upfield at a speed of 2.03 metres per second.

Rangnick plans to take the game to France in Dusseldorf, telling his players there can be no inferiority complex if they are to earn a result.

“That is crucial, that we will be courageous, that we are convinced of our own strength,” Rangnick said at his pre-match press conference.

“What’s really vital is the way that we perform, not the way that France plays, or whether they are a little bit better or a little bit worse, it’s only about us.

“We prepared for over two years for this day. It’s finally starting for us. We’re really excited. There’s joy above everything else.”

One of Austria’s most pressing tasks will be to shut out Kylian Mbappe, who has scored 12 goals in his last three international tournaments (four at the 2018 World Cup, none at Euro 2020, eight at the 2022 World Cup).

Harry Kane is the only European player to match that figure, and the England man was also the only player from Europe’s top five leagues to equal Mbappe’s 44 goals in 2023-24.

However, Rangnick says Austria cannot afford to focus entirely on any one player, such is the strength of the France squad.

“With our style of playing we have to counter him and the whole French team, we have to make sure that he doesn’t receive as many balls as he likes,” he said.

“We know from our own strengths that we can win this match.”

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