Tom Middler’s Italy v Austria preview: Can Austria pull off a huge upset?
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Austria throughout Euro 2020
Austria produced by far their best display of the tournament as they deservedly defeated Ukraine to pinch second place in Group C. They’ve now made history with the nation’s first-ever trip to the knockout stages of a European Championship.
Next up, it’s Italy at Wembley, and sadly for the Austrians, there is likely to be no travel allowed to the UK, meaning London’s sizeable Italian community will probably be making the most noise on Saturday evening. For many in Franco Foda’s squad, even those with recent Champions League experience, this will feel like the biggest game of their career; after all it’s a first knockout tie of any kind for Austria since 1954, and against their southern neighbours too!
With Italy looking imperious going forward and close to impenetrable at the back, Austria will undoubtedly be massive outsiders for this game. However, with Florian Grillitsch brought in to shore up the midfield and three up-front, they pressed and hassled Ukraine in a surprisingly clear victory to reach this stage, and if Foda can keep the team pushing forward and taking risks, they do have the players to cause trouble, and in Christoph Baumgartner, the youngest scorer at EURO 2020.
If Austria are to pull off one of the shocks of the tournament, they’ll need to repeat their match day three tricks and hope the Azzurri have a bit of an off day. Does Coach Foda have a fourth new formation to try out, or will he stick with the 4-3-3 that worked so well against Ukraine?
If they can truly embrace the role of the underdog Austria could play with abandon and enjoy the occasion at Wembley. If not, it might be a long night.