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David Alaba: Austria 'want to make history'

David Alaba talks to EURO2020.com about Austria's crunch match with Ukraine and the different roles he plays for the team.

Austria's inspirational David Alaba
Austria's inspirational David Alaba POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Austria have never gone past the group stage at a UEFA EURO before, or even at any major tournament since the 1982 FIFA World Cup, but they can put that right on Monday with victory against Ukraine in Bucharest.

In their 28-year-old skipper David Alaba, they have someone with more than a little experience of getting the job done on the biggest stage. EURO2020.com spoke to the man who is the face of Austrian football.

David, you can play several positions. Which is your favourite?

For a long time I played at left-back for Bayern München; more recently I played as a central defender, before that I played in midfield now and again. So what does "favourite position" mean? I'm happy to play wherever I can help the team the most.

Against North Macedonia you played as a playmaker from the back. What do you like about this role?

Good question. I think you have a lot of influence on the game in this position in both directions – in attack and in defence. You get a different perspective on the game, can read it differently maybe. You have the ball a lot in this position, you can set the pace and influence the build-up of the game more.

Watch Alaba's highlights vs North Macedonia
Watch Alaba's highlights vs North Macedonia

Last weekend you pushed forward just at the right moment and provided the assist to make it 2-1 against North Macedonia. Can you tell us how a decision like that comes about and how you get the timing right?

Well, it was a very spontaneous thing. I started in the centre of defence. The three of us understand each other very well, so I swapped spontaneously with 'Hinti' [Martin Hinteregger] because I have different attacking ideas. It worked out in the end.

Against the Netherlands it didn't work quite as well. Why?

I think defensively we were really solid, but they had more solutions in attack than we did. It was a very unfortunate game, I'd say – we conceded the first goal through bad luck with the penalty, but we did not stop fighting. I've seen the statistics and we had more possession than the Netherlands, which shows how much courage we've played with.

David Alaba has started both Austria games so far as captain
David Alaba has started both Austria games so far as captainGetty Images

You mentioned that you had problems in attack – what will Austria do to change things for the Ukraine game?

We've analysed the last game, of course. We didn't find the spaces; sometimes we didn't even run for passes. We had good ideas, which we could see from the analysis, but the last pass was missing, better ideas, solutions, maybe even desire. There are a few more factors which made it difficult to score.

Now you have the last match against Ukraine – how important is this for Austria?

It's like a final, it feels like a final. We know this will not be an easy game, but we are flying to Bucharest to get the three points.

Qualifying for the EURO knockouts would be a historic achievement for Austria. Can you put into words the importance of advancing?

Of course. Naturally we want to make history and know how important that would be. We know that an Austrian national team has never reached the round of 16 in a [EURO] – we're conscious of that and we've made it our goal.

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