The most positive thing about the 2-0 defeat against France at the Stade de France was that the defeat against the oppressively superior world champion was no greater. Now the ÖFB selection needs a win against Croatia on Sunday (8.45 p.m. / live ORF 1) in Vienna and a Danish point win against the French in the parallel game in order to remain in the top Nations League class.
Before the game, “Les Bleus” had to lament a total of twelve, some of them very prominent, failures, but the home side in Saint-Denis were clearly too strong for the Austrians. Ralf Rangnick’s squad got to feel how high the density of top-class players is in France. “If you just look at the substitutes’ bench today – I think almost every one of them would have a great chance of being in the starting line-up,” explained the German.
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard (both FC Bayern) sat on the bench. Rangnick wondered “that anyone actually believed and seriously asked me if it was an advantage that France were eight or nine players short”.
Like poison for the ÖFB defense
There was no question of a French B-Elf anyway – if only because Kylian Mbappe was on the pitch. The star striker messed up Austria’s defense several times. “I venture the thesis that if Mbappe had played for us, the game would have ended differently, but unfortunately we don’t have Mbappe,” said Rangnick.
The goalgetter from Paris Saint-Germain caused a lot of activity in the ÖFB sixteen in the early stages. “Of course we could have been behind at half-time,” said Rangnick. In the first few minutes after the break, however, the guests improved and had their only really promising chance of the entire match through Xaver Schlager when the score was 0-0.
A little later, a serious mistake by Marcel Sabitzer initiated Mbappe’s first goal in France. “At that point the goal wasn’t in the air, we had control there. The timing of the goal and the way we helped prepare it was very annoying,” said Rangnick.
Rangnick protected his team
As bitter as the scoring was, the 64-year-old had to admit that the class difference between France and Austria could not be shaken that evening. The defeat was “due to the quality of the opponent and the way we played ourselves”. You could have defended and attacked “with a little more physicality”, Rangnick complained. “It wasn’t easy for us to get early access. It’s a question of individual quality.”
The team boss now wants to get his protégés back in shape in time for the duel with the Croatians, but will not act as a comforter. “I don’t think the team needs to be raised, they see it very realistically, just like we do,” explained Rangnick.
According to him, Marko Arnautovic, David Alaba and Andreas Weimann are doubtful for Sunday, but Arnautovic gave the all-clear late Thursday evening. Whoever is used in the showdown with the vice world champion and Nations League leader must be “fresh and rested”, emphasized Rangnick.