Austria Profile

Year Founded 1902

The Austrian national team is currently enjoying a golden era, after qualifying for back-to-back European Championships for the first time in their history.

Austria's national soccer team has existed for over a century. And while there have been several low points, they are currently on a high after qualifying for a second successive edition of the Euros.

Austria finished fourth at the 1934 World Cup and third in 1954. They have not reached the semi-final stage since, but continued to appear sporadically at World Cup tournaments, most recently qualifying in 1998.

Euro 2020 will be Austria's third European Championship, as they previously featured in 2008 and 2016. On both occasions, they were eliminated at the group stage.

Austria national team pre-World War II

Austria's soccer association, the OFB, was founded on 18 March, 1904. Max Scheuer, a Jewish defender who played for Austria in 1923, was subsequently killed in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp during the holocaust.

At the 1934 World Cup, Austria lost 1-0 to Italy in the semi-finals and 3-2 to Germany in the third-place play-off.

After Austria was annexed to Germany, the OFB was abolished, so Austria had to withdraw from the 1938 World Cup even though they qualified.

Austria national team post-World War II

Austria vs England, 1958 World Cup

Austria was separated from Germany once again following the end of the Second World War. In 1954, they had their best-ever World Cup tournament despite losing 6-1 to Germany in the semi-finals. They went on to beat defending champions Uruguay 3-1 in the third-place play-off.

Austria had a disappointing 1958 World Cup in Sweden. They lost to Brazil, the Soviet Union and an England side which was rebuilding following the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.

Austria decided not to participate in the 1962 World Cup, leading to the dismantling of their team. That year, they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Czechoslovakia.

In 1965, Austria beat England 3-2 at Wembley Stadium with Toni Fritsch scoring twice. However, they failed to qualify for the 1966 World Cup, which England won. Austria spent the next half a century largely in the soccer wilderness.

With Hans Krankl upfront, Austria qualified for the second round of the FIFA World Cup in 1978 and 1982, but did not progress beyond that.

In a match between Austria and West Germany in the group stage of the 1982 World Cup, a 1-0 win for West Germany would see both sides progress to the next round at the expense of their group rivals.

The sides appeared to deliberately settle for a 1-0 win for West Germany after they opened the scoring in the 80th minute, prompting outrage and prompting a change to the rules of the FIFA World Cup. Now, within any given World Cup group, teams play their final group matches at the same time.

Austria qualified for the 1990 World Cup with Toni Polster leading the line, but they were eliminated in the first round despite beating the USA 2-1. They subsequently suffered a humiliating 1-0 loss to the Faroe Islands, a team largely consisting of amateurs, in qualifying for the 1992 European Championships.

Austria's next major tournament appearance was at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, where they finished third in their group behind Italy and Chile, but ahead of Cameroon.

European Championships 2008

Austria qualified for UEFA Euro 2008 as joint-hosts alongside Switzerland. Austria had produced some poor performances over the previous decade, so were expected to offer little resistance to their group opponents, Germany, Croatia and Poland.

"After the World Cup in Germany two years ago, everyone expects a lot from this event. We want, of course, to be a very good host and hope for some very good games," said Austria striker Martin Harnik ahead of the tournament.

At the event, Austria exceeded expectations. They drew 1-1 with Poland and suffered narrow 1-0 defeats to both Germany and Croatia. They were eliminated from the tournament but had saved face.

Austria national team and Euro 2016

Austria did not feature at Euro 2012, but they did qualify for Euro 2016 in France. They finished top of a qualification group featuring Russia, Sweden, Montenegro, Liechtenstein and Moldova.

At the tournament itself, they lost 2-0 to Hungary and 2-1 to Iceland despite a goal from Alessandro Schopf in the latter fixture. They also managed a 0-0 draw with Portugal inbetween those two fixtures. Nevertheless, Austria were once again sent packing after the group stage.

Austria finished second in qualifying Group G for the 2020 European Championships (which are scheduled to be held in 2021). They finished behind Poland, but ahead of North Macedonia, Slovenia, Israel and Latvia to make the tournament.

Legendary players

Perhaps the most recognisable figure in modern Austrian soccer is Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. Andi Herzog remains Austria's record appearance-maker, while Toni Polster is their top scorer.

After Alaba was named Austrian Footballer of the Year following Bayern Munich's treble, Bayern coach Hansi Flick said: "David more than deserves this award for his performances this year. He raised his incredible level again and has become one of the best players in the world at centre-back, a position that was initially unfamiliar to him.

"He's been an important cornerstone in our team and contributed a huge amount to us winning five titles. On behalf of the whole team and my coaching staff, I would like to congratulate him on this vote."

Alaba has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid or Inter Milan.

National team rivalries

Austria have a rivalry with Germany, although results have generally been one-sided in favour of their opponents. The rivalry stems from several factors, including the countries' close proximity and their shared history, particularly during the period leading up to and during the Second World War.

Austria also have a longstanding rivalry with Hungary, another one of their neighbours. Hungary have had the better of that rivalry too, with 67 wins to Austria's 40.

Fanbase

Austria has a population of close to nine million people and soccer is the most popular sport in the country.

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