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EURO 2022

Austria team guide Women’s Euro 2022: stars, players, coach, tactics, expectations...

In-depth guide of the Austria Team participating in the Women’s Euro 2022 in England, as they battle the hosts in the inaugural game of the tournament.

Andreas Hagenauer
Update:
In-depth guide of the Austria Team participating in the Women’s Euro 2022 in England, as they battle the hosts in the inaugural game of the tournament.
DAVID CATRYGetty

Austria at Euro 2022: Overview

Five years is a long time. Not only in the world of football, but perhaps especially there. Five years ago Austria made their debut on the big women’s football stage, at the Euros in the Netherlands, and took the country on an unimaginably successful ride. A clear underdog they reached the semi-finals, creating a hype around the team at home and abroad. Public attention and affection grew and suddenly names such as Manuela Zinsberger, Viktoria Schnaderbeck and Sarah Puntigam were becoming well known, featuring on TV and in commercials.

Before the Euros in England some of the names have changed, and so has the perception of the team. “The signs are completely different now,” the Bayern Munich defender Carina Wenninger said in the run-up to the Euros. “The other teams know who we are now.”

If we are honest the hype after the last Euros did not last too long. Women’s football may now have a bigger role within the football federation but Austria still struggles to get young girls into football. At the moment only seven per cent of active players in Austria are female.

However, the national team, now under the stewardship of Irene Fuhrmann, who took over from Dominik Thalhammer in 2020, continue to make progress and have taken several steps forward recently. Fuhrmann has an excellent mix of experienced and young players, who are pushing each other to play a refreshing and successful style of football: “Our great asset is our versatility,” she says. “As a team and as individuals we are prepared to take on every challenge.”

Austria were outstanding in qualifying, drawing at home against France and only conceding three goals throughout the whole campaign. They qualified as one of the best group runners-up and Wenninger, who was part of the 2017 squad, says: “We have an even better team now than then.”

The Coach

Austria's Head Coach Irene Fuhrmann.
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Austria's Head Coach Irene Fuhrmann.DAVID CATRYGetty

In July 2020, Irene Fuhrmann became the first woman to lead the Austrian national team when she took over from long-standing coach Dominik Thalhammer, who became LASK men’s coach. She recalls the first few weeks in charge: “Most of the interviews back then centred around the fact that I was the first woman as a head coach.” Things have moved on from then and the focus is more on the actual football now. As a player, Fuhrmann won 23 caps for Austria and as a manager she is known as someone who is hard-working and a good communicator. Having been assistant coach under Thalhammer she knew most of the players when she took on the No 1 job. Keeps herself fit by going on long runs in the woods.

Star Player

Sarah Zadrazil. Shamefully ignored by the Guardian Top 100 List (looking at you Guardian judges) the Bad-Ischl-native is a key midfielder for Champions League quarter-finalists Bayern Munich and the Austrian national team. She is very composed on the ball and her excellent decision making stands out all the time. Off the pitch the 29-year-old is an ambassador for WePlayStrong.com, a digital media platform and community dedicated to women’s football. She launched her first girls’ football camp in May 2022 and was the first female footballer to sign a commercial deal with Red Bull.

Wild Card

Barbara Dunst has just completed an outstanding season for German side Eintracht Frankfurt, being a real threat to opposing sides with her pace, technical ability and precise shooting. Now 24, she was part of the 2017 squad but did not play a single minute. Now in the prime of her career she has taken huge steps forward and can be a game-decider this summer. Her speciality is dribbling past a player (or a few) before launching a rocket of a shot. Her passion for football seems endless. “I could play football all day long. I just love it,” she once said.

Austria’s probable lineup

4-3-2-1

Zinsberger

Wienroither - Wenninger- Schnaderbeck - Hanshaw

Puntigam- Zadrazil - Feiersinger

Naschenweng - Dunst

Billa

All-time-hero

Nina Burger. When the legendary striker retired in 2019 there was a big question mark surrounding Austrian women’s football: who would score all the goals. The answer came in the shape of Nicole Billa a bit later but Burger’s were big shoes to fill indeed. Burger scored 53 goals in 108 appearances for her country and was a key figure in promoting women’s football in Austria, being influential in the transition of the sport from niche amateur sport to what it is today.

“She was fundamental for the development of women’s football in Austria,” the former national team coach Dominik Thalhammer said when she retired. She is now in charge of the women’s football section at Austria’s oldest football club, First Vienna FC.

Nina Burger
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Nina BurgerGetty Images

Euro history

The last Euros in the Netherlands 2017 was the first time Austria had qualified for the tournament. They had been getting closer and closer, finishing second in their qualifying group and losing to Russia in the play-offs four years before that. In the Netherlands expectations were low but they beat Switzerland and Iceland in the group and even drew against France. They proceeded to knock out France in the quarter-finals (on penalties) before losing to Denmark in the last four (also on penalties). It was, indeed, the breakthrough for women’s football in Austria.

Realistic aim this summer

Getting out of the group is the main aim here. They are up against England first – and may struggle against the hosts – so the second game against Northern Ireland is key before a potential winner-takes-it-all fixture against Norway. Prediction: quarter-final.