It is getting on for 26 years since Austria last savoured victory over Germany, but there is growing sense that with a quality group of youngsters under the direction of a new coach, that the wait could be about to end.
Marcel Koller will be shorn of last season's shooting star David Alaba through injury, but it is testament to the impressive squad at the Swiss' disposal that the FC Bayern München youngster may not be unduly missed. Indeed, it is likely that not one member of the team that lines up in red at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion this evening ply their trade in their homeland – Austrian players have become a real commodity.
Many of them live and work over the border in Germany. It serves only to heighten the rivalry – just ask Martin Harnik, Marko Arnautović, Andreas Ivanschitz, Emanuel Pogatetz or Christian Fuchs. This time, they believe, they can do it; not that they are getting carried away. Cautious optimism prevails. "We know our strengths but we are keeping grounded here," said FC Schalke 04 defender Fuchs. "We must not pretend to be smaller than we are, but we have to believe in our qualities."
There has, of course, been a few glimmers of hope since two goals from Toni Polster set Austria on course for a 4-1 friendly victory over Germany on 29 October 1986. Yet in eight subsequent meetings they have drawn one and lost seven, including home-and-away defeats in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying. This time, though, the faith has deeper foundations. Even Germany coach Joachim Löw has taken notice, saying: "Over the past two years Austria have improved tremendously; they are absolutely capable of competing."
Koller agrees with the assessment and insists that if they are to advance from 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group C, they must start with a bang against a side that opened their account with a 3-0 win against the Faroe Islands on Friday. "It's already all or nothing," said the former 1. FC Köln and VfL Bochum boss, appointed last October. "In Austria the Germany match is the game of games. For me, though, it is just an important game at the start of qualifying."
Two decades of disappointment
18/11/1992 – Germany 0-0 Austria (friendly)
02/06/1994 – Austria 1-5 Germany (friendly)
18/05/2002 – Germany 6-2 Austria (friendly)
18/08/2004 – Austria 1-3 Germany (friendly)
06/02/2008 – Austria 0-3 Germany (friendly)
16/06/2008 – Austria 0-1 Germany (UEFA EURO 2008 group stage)
03/06/2011 – Austria 1-2 Germany (UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying)
02/09/2011 – Germany 6-2 Austria (UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying)
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