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Defender Sebastian Prödl believes that Austria have managed to win over a sceptical public and ensure their backing for the crucial UEFA EURO 2008™ clash with Poland in Vienna.
Austria have home advantage for the Group B game against Poland, who also began their campaign with a defeat, and Prödl feels that the local fans will give Austria their full support. "The fans can contribute a lot to our success," said Prödl. "We could see during the warm-up before our first game against Croatia that the whole country was behind us. We know there wasn't such a good feeling in the country in the last year or two but now everyone is supporting us, the mood in the stadium against Croatia was great and this is a big motivation for us."
Confidence despite defeat
Prödl, who plays his club football for SK Sturm Graz, believes that Austria will take positives out of their opening game, despite the 1-0 defeat. "We lost to Croatia but we have gained self-confidence. All of Austria has seen that we can play at this level and, with a bit of luck, we'd have won. That match is over but we have gained self-confidence, we showed that we are fit and can play for the whole game. We were the better team at the end of the Croatia match and that makes us strong, if we have some luck we will win against the Polish side."
With Poland also losing their first fixture – 2-0 to Germany – both teams know defeat is likely to signal their exit from the tournament. "Both teams have to win and we want to use the opportunity we have to make it into the quarter-finals," added Prödl. "There would be nothing greater for us than to win on home soil. It won't be an easy game but we will be as strong as possible, we have confidence based on our performance against Croatia and we will build on that." Despite the Poles' failure to score in their opening game, Prödl sees danger for the co-hosts in their attack. "Poland are a good side overall but they are excellent in attack. Ebi Smolarek is very fast and that's a danger for us. They have lively wingers, they also have Roger Guerreiro, who is an excellent player. But we will look to ourselves."
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