Tuesday 20 February 2018



TROPHY CABINET: Olympic silver medallists 1936


FORM: Friday's 3-0 defeat in Germany won't knock the Austrians too much ahead of tomorrow's game. Lost their August friendly to Greece, but beating Sweden in June and drawing with Ireland means that they have a capacity to get good results despite a starting XI that doesn't jump out off the page.

THE GAFFER: Former Switzerland international Marcel Koller has been in charge of the Austrians since 2011, two years after he left VFL Bochum, a German yo-yo club. A one-club man as a player with Grasshoppers, he represented Switzerland 56 times as a player.


David Alaba (Bayern Munich)

Alaba's name wasn't mentioned among all of the speculation about top-class central midfielders last summer because Pep Guardiola and Bayern wouldn't countenance selling the man who has so far operated at left-back for his club.

Ireland learned just how dangerous the 21-year-old – who has already amassed 25 caps – is when he silenced the Aviva Stadium earlier this year, and he will be the Austrians' main attacking threat tomorrow night.

SQUAD NEWS: Midfielder Veli Kavlak may be forced to wear a mask after clashing heavily with Germany's Toni Kroos on Friday, while Werder Bremen winger Zlatko Junuzovic is a major loss to the attacking ranks.

WHERE CAN IRELAND STOP THEM? Austria's defence is severely lacking, with Dynamo Kiev's Aleksandar Dragovic their main asset in that department. Alaba will cause damage in a similar way Zlatan Ibrahimovic did on Friday if given space, but Ireland will look to shut the Bayern man down.

Irish Independent

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