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“Rangnik is the best thing that ever happened to us.” What strategy takes Austria to the Euro Cup playoffs?

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 13:36:00

The spring of 2022 was turbulent for the Austrian team. The fourth place in the qualification for the World Cup in Qatar (behind Denmark, Scotland and Israel) quickly relieved fans of the euphoria after the team’s performance at Euro 2020. Then the Austrians managed to get out of the group, but lost in the round of 16 final against the future champions, which in general was not so offensive. However, qualifying for the World Cup was much more difficult for them: five wins in 10 rounds, two major defeats (they lost four to the Danes and finished 2:5 with Israel) and they had to fight for a place in the playoffs. . It all ended in the semi-finals: the Austrians lost to Wales.

It was necessary to urgently act and change something, otherwise the Austrian national team would miss the next tournament in Germany. The sporting director of the Austrian federation, Peter Schöttel, began the search for a new coach, but the list of candidates was not that long: he only considered those who worked in the Red Bull system. The Austrian brand literally jumped into football in the 2000s, developing a unique approach to finding and training players, resulting in the creation of an entire talent factory.

Red Bull moved away from the generally accepted system with an emphasis on technique, focusing on the development of coordination skills. To this we add comprehensive data analysis to better understand players, modern technologies, season it all with a single philosophy for all coaches, and voila: one of the best academies in the world is ready. But Schöttel looked at the former employees of the Red Bull system not because of this status, but because most of the players in the Austrian national team came from there. He needed a person who understood footballers.

How the Salzburg and Leipzig academies are structured:

Salzburg’s then sporting director, Christoph Freund, gave him the number of a coach who perfectly fit Schöttel’s parameters. I had to call England.

Ralf Rangnick then worked at Manchester United and this period can hardly be considered successful. But when Schöttel invited him to lead the Austrian team, Rangnick still asked for time to think.

Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

At the end of April, the media reported the name of the new coach of the Austrian national team. Rangnick was supposed to start working after the end of the season in the Premier League and combine a coaching position with a consulting position at Manchester United, but a week after his last press conference a dry official statement from the club appeared. . United said Rangnick would focus solely on the national team and wished him the best of luck in the new stage of his career.

From Franco Foda, the German inherited a team that played conservative football, without ideas or efficiency. In Austria, love for the national team follows a curve: with more or less success, interest arises and then falls into the abyss of disappointment. And now, after four years of the same football without any glimmer of hope for change, the fans lost interest again. The results were discouraging and the feeling that Austria’s great talents were being wasted grew stronger: it was evident that the team was performing well below its potential. There are brilliant, offensive players, but the cautious coach’s ideas seemed to suppress them.

The stands were empty: only the optimists who, despite everything, wanted to believe in the best, continued to attend the games. But there was nothing to believe in.

With his arrival, Rangnick reversed the trend in the other direction. Not immediately, but with his actions, step by step, he returned the fans’ interest in the national team. The German worked on two fronts: he rebuilt the team and sought a rapprochement with the fans. He moved to Austria, which is very important for the image of the national coach, as well as for his work within the country. By his decision, two matches were held in Linz, where the stadium was smaller, in order to fill the stands completely and, at the same time, bring the team closer to fans outside the capital.

Austrian national team

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Rangknik also began to pay attention to Austrian clubs to attract players from the national championship; Until then, the team was mainly made up of players who played in other European leagues. But all this was just an addition to what he was doing from within. Rangnick had the time and space to implement his ideas, so gradually Ralf began to transform the team from functional and cautious to one that was willing and able to play aggressive football. Austria started playing Rangnickball: quick transitions, pressure and counterpressure until the opponent breaks. The team began to play in a lively, fast and interesting way, and with this came the first successes.

“It was the best thing that could have happened to Austrian football,” said Austrian midfielder Christoph Baumgartner. “And I’m not saying this because I want to hold on, I mean it.” He just brings incredible experience and puts in an enormous amount of time and energy. This is very good for us because we are a nation that stands by for a long time. He is the one who will definitely not allow this to happen. “Rangnick pushes us to the limit every day.”

One of Austria’s problems is longing for the past and savoring even the slightest success for a long time. Rangnick’s position is that you can celebrate a victory for a day or two, but then you should look ahead and move on to the next achievement. The German got Austria out of this vicious circle of nostalgia by building a new psychology for the team: if you win today, for the next victory you must be even faster and stronger. Rangnick usually pays a lot of attention to psychology: he communicates with each player, makes difficult decisions to maintain a healthy atmosphere in the team (in the spring he expelled Rapid players from the team for xenophobic statements) and motivates. Baumgartner said that on the way to the game against Poland, the coach sent him a photo of himself celebrating a goal for Leipzig. “Once in a while I do this to players to provoke them,” Rangnick himself commented on the story.

Austrian national team coaching staff

Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The German managed to do another important thing: he united talented players into a team where all players complement each other and do not overshadow each other. The players respect him because Rangnick does not pursue the idea of ​​​​achieving success at any cost, but rather the balance between professionalism and humanity.

The secret to Rangnick’s success with Austria lies not so much in his approach or psychology, but in the fact that his philosophy is simply perfect for this team. Half of the players in the current team came from Red Bull’s talent incubator, the principles of which he himself established. Rangnick described them with three Cs.

Concept: unique DNA at all levels of the academy. “The style of play must be easily recognizable, to the point that even on a bad day you can tell what kind of football the team wants to play.” Competition: Finding the best people to lead and build the team: this. It is what is formed if the first two principles are followed.

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Rangnick speaks the same language as the players and that is what allows the team to advance. In the European Championship in Germany, the Austrian team, which had undergone drastic changes in two years, became the loser.

Before the tournament, Rangnick said that if Austria managed to qualify from a group with France and the Netherlands, they would have nothing to fear. But it seems that the Austrians already came to this tournament with enough confidence: they showed a good game against France, they demolished Poland and now they just need to avoid a bad defeat to reach the playoffs.

Complete schedule of the fight for the playoffs:

Complete qualifying schedule for the Euro 2024 playoffs. Who comes out of third place and against whom?

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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