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Monday, March 27, 2023

Will the Linz lawn become a problem for the national team?

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Shot from the interior of the Raiffeisen Arena
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Tomorrow, at 2 p.m., the Griss will start selling the last available tickets for the two football festivals at the Linzer Gugl via oeticket.com. According to ÖFB Managing Director Bernhard Neuhold, “a few remaining tickets” are available for the European Championship qualifying start on March 24 against Azerbaijan, and for the Estonia match on March 27, 1,000 of the 17,000 tickets issued are still on the market.

It can be assumed that the red-white-red national team will step onto the pitch twice in front of a full house. The latter was badly affected in just three games (soft opening with the LASK ladies plus two Bundesliga games for the LASK men), brown spots spoil the overall appearance of the brand new Raiffeisen Arena.

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The ÖFB sees the situation with serenity. Those responsible for LASK had promised “to use a large number of human resources and technical aids in order to be able to offer the best possible conditions,” said Neuhold. “There is no point in discussing a turf swap at this point.”

Team boss Ralf Rangnick is also confident. “In Linz and also in the training camp in Windischgarsten we will find top conditions. Especially if the grass is pampered a bit.”

Comeback after a good ten years

Most recently, an Austrian senior national team was on November 14, 2012 in Linz on the Gugl, which was completely overhauled at the time. The friendly international match against Ivory Coast ended in a 3-0 defeat in front of 13,832 spectators.

At that time, the ÖFB head coach was called Marcel Koller, from the squad nominated today Heinz Lindner, David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic and Andreas Weimann were already part of the game a good ten years ago. Ex-captain Marc Janko still remembers the whistles that rained down on the ÖFB selection at the time.

The most recent ÖFB competition match in Linz took place on June 17, 1981. Back then, Finland was a welcome guest in Group 1 of the World Cup qualifiers: Austria clearly had the upper hand 5-1 (2-0) in front of 25,700 spectators. Herbert Prohaska (16th, 18th), Hans Krankl (49th), Kurt Welzl (56th) and Gernot Jurtin (65th) entered the shooting list. Willi Kreuz from SK Vöest played from the 80th minute.

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