Wales: Austria away q&a

We caught up with Austria fans Christian Spindler and David Ziermann ahead of Wales’ crucial World Cup qualifier in Vienna.

What can the fans travelling to Vienna expect in the City?

Spindler: It’s a beautiful city full of historical places, classical music, lovely cafés and charming people from everywhere around the world. 

Ziermann: Vienna is the city with the highest living quality worldwide! They can expect both: awesome historical buildings and a beautiful nature.

Can you recommend any good places to eat and drink and whats the average cost of lager? 

Spindler: My favorite place to eat good Austrian food is this place right there. also don’t miss out on our great street food – we’re a sausage country and you can find little sausage places (Würstelstand) on every other corner. I don’t know if the beer is much cheaper here, but it might be a lot stronger (so watch out) – you pay around 15€ for a crate of beer,  that’s less than a Euro per bottle. 

Ziermann: The average lager (half a liter) costs 3,50 eur or maximum 4 eur! A great traditional place for austrian food would be the “Schweizerhaus” next to the stadium or the Figelmüller in the inner city! My favourite restaurant is an american burger restaurant called Burgers Bar!

What’s the ground like and what’s the best way to get there? 

Spindler: Happel Stadium is a multifunctional stadium with a capacity of about 50.000. Even though it’s not a classic football stadium and a running track separates the fans from the green, there is a special magic at work when our national team plays there turning this vast venerable oval into a fortress as a long lost Austrian football euphoria is suddenly revived the moment our players enter the pitch to the sound of the “Radetzky March” and 40.000 waving Austrian flags. 

It is easy to reach by public. Just take the U2 (not the band but one of the 5 viennese underground lines) and get out at the stop called “stadion” and there you are right in front of this old beauty. 

Ziermann: There is an underground going directly to the Stadium (line U2- station: Stadion), but you could walk there through the historical fun parc “Prater” (line u2 and u1: Praterstern).

Austria had a poor Euro 2016 after sailing through qualifying, what went wrong? 

Spindler: It seems that ever since the eighties there is this ongoing thing with Austria and big tournaments. They would always play amazing in the qualifiers and then, unable to handle the euphoria and high expectations, disappoint in the group stage. It also did not help that we lost the creative heart of the team (zlatko junuzovic) at the very beginning of the tournament due to injury. 

Ziermann: We dont know, maybe we were too sure to get to the next round, expectations were too high!

You won 1-2 away to Georgia in your first game of this group how did that go? 

Spindler: It went well at the beginning but turned into an ugly game after the first half and at the end we were quite lucky to take home the 3 points.  On the other hand I have to say that 10 years ago we probably would have lost this kind of game. Austria always had a hard time playing weaker teams – we prefer being the underdog.  But the Georgia game showed that this team has learned to fight even when the other team makes it impossible for them to play the Austrian game. A good thing since we’ve already lost a lot of important qualifier-points in eastern Europe over the last twenty years. 

Ziermann: The first half was okay, the second one was terrible, but you got to experience such games! Glad that we got those 3 pnts!

Who are your star players and weak links? 

Spindler: Well, as I’ve already mentioned Junuzovic is our creative heart. His passes would often initiate dangerous attacks.  Then there is our “superstar” David Alaba who is the most important link between defense and midfield who also has the ability to open the game.  Our defense is really solid – in the center we have Aleksandar Dragović,  a word class defender that could eliminate any striker on a good day. Our weakest point definitely is our entire right side. Most of our dangerous attempts come from the left side around our talented “enfant terrible” Marko Arnautovic.

Ziermann: Arnautovic, Baumgartlinger,Alaba, Dragovic and Schöpf as a newcommer! Weak players are the wing defenders Klein and Suttner.

There’s no European heavyweights in this qualifying group, do you fancy your chances of qualifying and who do you see as your main threats? 

Spindler: We definitely have enough potential to win this group (or at least to finish second) As long as our team stays humble and willing to fight – especially in the “obligatory win”-games. Wales will definitely be the our number one opponent, but I think we can play on their level.  

Ziermann: Main threat would be Wales, mostly Bale… But we will do it, hopefully!

What do you make of Wales and which players if any do you fear? 

Spindler: I see a lot of similarities between Wales and Austria and think that their EURO-performance showed us Austrians what would have been possible if we kept up the spirit of the qualifiers. I think we are really lucky that Ramsey won’t be able to play this time – his absence in the EURO-semifinal in comparison to his performance in the quarters made clear how important he is to the Welsh game. But of course we all know what Gareth bale is capable of…he is a superstar able to fit in with the team and not to arrogant to do the dirty work. 

Ziermann: Just Bale, he is an animal!

Predict the score and how both teams will do in the group. 

Spindler: I go with my gut feeling and say 1-1 

I think (and hope) that we’ll see both teams on places 1 and 2 at the end.  Don’t ask me which one of them will be first though! 

Ziermann: Austria will win 2-1, Wales and Austria have same chances to win the group!