Austria are ready to make history when they face Germany in the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, convinced there will be an even more impressive epilogue to their stay in Hungary.
Not since 2006 have the Alpine nation reached the last four at this level, losing 5-0 to Spain to add to their 2003 disappointment at the same stage against Portugal. While the class of 2014 are savouring their achievement in matching their predecessors, they have enough belief to suggest they can go even further and make their first ever final. Getting this far only to fall at the penultimate hurdle again is certainly not a conceivable alternative.
"Among all of us in the team and the coach, we have always really believed we could do this," said defender Alexander Joppich. "It's extraordinary for Austria and a really big opportunity, and when you make the semis, then you obviously want to win and get into the final. Everything's now riding on Monday's game." And what a game it promises to be.
Austria scored 17 goals in qualifying – the same number as their semi-final opponents Germany and fewer only than Portugal (21) and Israel (18). In Hungary, they have added a further seven – the same total as Germany, with only Portugal again (11) managing more. Should both teams play to their strengths, it promises to make for an entertaining encounter.
"We play to win because we always want to win, no matter what kind of game it is, whether it's a friendly or a qualifying match," said midfielder Markus Blutsch. "That's just our attitude. We know we have the quality to win these games. We know we can cope with the best and this gives us self-confidence too.
"For us it's incredible, it's not often that Austria are in a semi-final and the aim now is clearly to reach the final and create a sensation. Why not face Portugal again? Then we can gain revenge. I'm a very ambitious player and not somebody who is easily pleased."
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