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February 07, 2007

Warming up for Euro2008

Austrianteam The football aware amongst you will know that next year Austria will be co-hosting Euro2008 with Switzerland, and I hope to be back in Salzburg to watch a couple of matches in that tournament. Meanwhile, the Austrian national team have nothing but friendly games for two years in order to get ready.

Austria are actually quite a small footballing nation, but I have a slightly exagerated idea of their prowess. This is part comes from the fact that they were in the first World Cup I really remember, Spain in 1982, when they infamously played out a 1-0 game with West Germany which ensured that both teams qualified at the expense of Algeria. So obvious was the gentleman's agreement between the two sides that FIFA subsequently mandated that the final games in groups at the tournament should be played simultaneously, to prevent such gamesmanship.

Currently Austria are 65th in FIFA's world rankings, sitting between Saudi Arabia and the DR Congo, and they certainly haven't been stretching themselves in terms of the opponents they have been facing in their Euro2008 warm-ups. Recent match-ups have included Costa Rica (ranked 68th), Venezuela (ranked 73rd), Trinidad & Tobago (ranked 91st), and Liechtenstein (ranked 158th). Tonight they have an away fixture, against the mighty Malta.

Something tells me they don't think they will win Euro2008

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I saw a bit of it in the bar last night, and Austria even struggled against Malta - it finished 1-1

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