As in the elite round, Austria began the finals with a 3-2 loss yet spirits are still high after Sunday's defeat by England with striker Andreas Weimann saying: "Hopefully we can qualify."
Article top media content
If any of the four teams which suffered defeat on Matchday 1 of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship should not be unduly worried about their start to the final tournament it is Austria.
As in their elite round campaign – when they were beaten 3-2 in their opening fixture by Switzerland – Andreas Heraf's squad began their first finals appearance in three years with a reverse, losing a compelling Group A encounter to England. Having been two goals behind in Flers at half-time Austria emerged for the second period rejuvenated, twice halving the deficit only for England to resist a spell of concerted late pressure and hold on for a 3-2 victory.
The Swiss setback proved only a temporary blip as Austria ultimately, if unexpectedly, qualified for the finals in Normandy. Striker Andreas Weimann, who scored in that match, is drawing parallels with that experience and is confident Austria have the strength of character to recover from defeat once more.
"Hopefully we can [qualify] again," the 18-year-old Aston Villa FC forward told UEFA.com. "We were the better team in the second half by far. The first two goals we conceded were far too easy; we shouldn't have been 2-0 down. Even in the first half we were better than them, we played better football. It's unlucky that we lost but hopefully we can go on and win the next two games."
That is a tall order for a youthful squad, particularly with a France side which overwhelmed the Netherlands 4-1 next up on Wednesday. Weimann, however, is wholeheartedly embracing Austria's status as outsiders. "We're definitely the underdogs but we've got a good chance of reaching the semi-finals because we have a good team," he said. "We shouldn't have lost but it's good for us to be here ‒ the eight best teams in Europe are here so it's definitely positive for us."
Weimann was one of three Aston Villa players on the pitch at the Stade du Hazé alongside Nathan Baker and Nathan Delfouneso. So was friendship put aside in the build-up to the match? "We're in the same hotel so we see each other every day. We've spoken to each other a bit and we did after the game as well," said Weimann, who scored two minutes into his Under-21 debut against Scotland in September.
While Defouneso has made a breakthrough at Villa Park in the last two campaigns, Weimann is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Birmingham-based club, something he hopes to change in 2010/11. "It would be great if I could play for Villa − that's my goal for the season, maybe to get a few games."
Thoughts of a Premier League debut can wait for now, though, with Austria's tournament future on the line. Avoiding defeat by France is essential if Weimann and Co are to remain in contention for a place in the last four. "We need to win really to go through to the semi-finals," added Weimann. "We can't really defend; our strengths are attacking so we definitely need to go for the win."