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Austria V Rep. Of Ireland: Everything You Need To Know

Ireland

Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland take on Austria on Saturday, looking to stay unbeaten in the race for World Cup qualification.

Ireland have picked up seven points from a possible nine in their opening three games and while the performances have sometimes been a worry, the results so far have been as good as they could have expected.

Austria, on the other hand, are in trouble. Already three points behind their visitors on Saturday evening, they are fully aware that a second defeat relatively early into the campaign, and in a group that is likely to be incredibly tight, would be detrimental to their chances of qualifying for Russia in two years.

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Stadionul Zimbru, Chisinau, Moldova 9/10/2016 Moldova vs Republic of Ireland Ireland's James McClean with Jon Walters after the game
INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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Team News:

Both sides have mounting injury problems heading into the clash. Ireland, already without Shane Long and Daryl Murphy, subsequently lost James McCarthy, Stephen Ward, Stephen Quinn, Eunan O’Kane and Cyrus Christie from the original squad. James McClean and John O’Shea are touch-and-go right now also.

However, things aren’t so rosy in the Austrian camp either. Defender Sebastian Prodl and midfielder Zlatko Junuzovic have both withdrawn from the squad, while injury to usual first-choice goalkeeper Robert Almer means Bayer Leverkusen understudy Ramazan Ozcan will continue in goal.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - OCTOBER 06: James McClean of Republic of Ireland is tackled by Guram Kashia of Georgia during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group D Qualifier between Republic of Ireland and Georgia at Aviva Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Likely Starting Lineups:

With Ireland having to adjust to a number of injuries, O’Neill has a few alternatives he could choose from. The wild card of course would be starting one of Callum O’Dowda or Daryl Horgan, but this is the lineup that he should probably go for.

Austria, meanwhile will also have to adjust to a couple of withdrawals. Junozovic started in the recent 3-2 defeat at Serbia (with Prodl coming on as a sub) though with Martin Harnik returning to the squad the upheaval will at least be somewhat limited. As such, Marcel Koller could go with something like:

Ozcan, Klein, Dragovic, Hinterigger, Wimmer, Baumgartlinger, Alaba, Sabitzer, Harnik, Arnautovic, Janko

Republic of Ireland Squad Training, FAI National Training Centre, Abbotstown, Dublin 9/11/2016
INPHO/Gary Carr

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The Opposition:

FIFA World Ranking: 30 (down 4 from October)

The last year has seen one disappointment after another for Austria. When these sides last met (in Giovanni Trapattoni’s last match in charge of Ireland) in 2013, this was a team very much on the ascendancy. David Alaba was clearly pulling the strings there but under Koller there they were starting to build something.

Their storming run to Euro 2016 built on that foundation, winning nine and drawing one in a group that contained Russia and Sweden.

However, their performance at the tournament itself was little short of shambolic. A 0-0 draw with eventual champions Portugal was sandwiched between defeats to Hungary and Iceland, as many peoples’ dark horses crashed out in the group stage.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 22: David Alaba of Austria is consoled after defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group F match between Iceland and Austria at Stade de France on June 22, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Their start to this qualification campaign has been somewhat rocky also, an opening day win against Georgia was followed up with a draw at home to Wales and defeat to Serbia to leave them on four points from three games.

As ever, they will be looking to David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic for the moments of magic, captain Julian Baumgartlinger to boss the midfield, and veteran striker Marc Janko to provide the goals.

Koller knows that a win tonight is absolutely essential.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - OCTOBER 09: Dusan Tadic (R) of Serbia in action against David Alaba (L) of Austria during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Serbia and Austria at stadium Rajko Mitic on October 9, 2016 in Belgrade, . (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

The Head-To-Head Record:

Ireland’s record against Austria doesn’t make for particularly pleasant reading. The Boys in Green have played against the Austrians on fourteen occasions – and won just two of them. In fact, their record against Austria is their worst against any side they have faced more than five times (even their record against Brazil is better), with a win rate of just over 14%.

At the risk of dampening the mood further, Ireland’s record in Vienna reads: P7  W0  D1  L6

Last Five Meetings:

  • Austria 1-0 Ireland (Euro 1972 Qualifier), 10th October 1971
  • Ireland 1-3 Austria (Euro 1996 Qualifier), 11th June 1995
  • Austria 3-1 Ireland (Euro 1996 Qualifier), 6th September 1995
  • Ireland 2-2 Austria (World Cup 2014 Qualifier), 26th March 2013
  • Austria 2-0 Ireland (World Cup 2014 Qualifier), 10th September 2013

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Shane Long of Ireland (R) challenges Aleksandar Dragovic of Austria during the FIFA World Cup 2014 Group C qualification match between Austria and the Republic of Ireland at the Ernst Happel Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

The Verdict:

O’Neill has already stated that a draw would be a good result for his side in Vienna, so don’t expect anything too adventurous from the manager. Austria, however, need the win to get their campaign back on track and avoid losing touch with the leaders. In doing so they risk being caught on the counter-attack, but that depends on the wingers Ireland select.

As is the case with most Ireland matches, this could be on course for a dogged 1-1 draw.

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.

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