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Austria looks to avoid losing self-control against Croatia in its Euro 2008 opener

Austria looks to avoid losing self-control against Croatia in its Euro 2008 opener

Austria must avoid losing self-control in front of a cheering home crowd in its European Championship opener against Croatia on Sunday, according to Austria team manager Andreas Herzog.
"The public will want us to attack, but finding the right balance is key," Herzog said Saturday, shortly before the Austrian team left its Stegersbach base for Vienna, where a final training session was scheduled later Saturday.
"We have to put pressure on Croatia and go for our chances, but we can't get too enthusiastic and must play compact and controlled as well," Herzog said.
The team manager warned about Croatia's ability to start aggressively.
"That's how they quickly went 2-0 up against England in their decisive qualifier," Herzog said. "The worst thing that could happen to us is dropping behind soon in the match due to some tactical errors."
As co-host, Austria automatically qualified for the European Championship and did not play a competitive match in 2 1/2 years. Except defender Martin Hiden and midfielder Ivica Vastic, who played at the 1998 World Cup but were not expected in Sunday's starting lineup, none of the players in Austria's 23-man squad have participated in a major tournament before.
"You can feel that the pressure is on now, that some get a little nervous. That's obvious," Austria captain Andreas Ivanschitz said. "It's important that we try to take it easy, that we don't get cramped. Of course, mistakes will happen in the match. It's important that we don't panic and just deal with them."
Ivanschitz, who said he was yet unaware of the lineup, revealed that Austria will start with two forwards.
"Their central defense is vulnerable," Ivanschitz said. "With our fleet-footed strikers, we can hurt them."
Austria coach Josef Hickersberger is hoping to get at least four points from Austria's two opening matches _ against Croatia and Poland _ to stand a realistic chance of advancing from Group B, which also includes Germany.
"In fact, the Croatia game is the most important," Herzog said. "We must get off to a good start as we regard Germany as our toughest opponent."
While Austria is by far the lowest-ranked team at Euro 2008, all of its opponents will count on getting three points from their matches, according to Herzog.
"That will put a lot of pressure on them as well. They know they have to beat us," the team manager said. "Maybe that comes to our advantage."


Updated : 2021-02-26 16:08 GMT+08:00