Five things we learnt Poland vs Austria
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Five things we learnt Poland vs Austria

21/06/24 20:09

Five things we learnt Poland 1-3 Austria

Following Austria’s convincing 3-1 victory to all but condemn Poland to elimination from group D, we take a look at 5 things we learnt from the game.

1. Sabitzer shows his pedigree

Sabitzer has been a top quality midfielder for a while now. With experience playing in all midfield roles across the center of the pitch, and with elite employers such as Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund on his CV, he showed exactly why he was a key cog in the team on the losing side in this year's Champions League Final.

Playing on the left for Austria, he was a threat early on when combining with Mwene, and in the second half, when he roamed from position more, he caused carnage in the Poland half. This culminated when he robbed an unfortunate Polish center back defender, sprinted through on goal, and took the ball expertly around Szczesny, who then brought him down.

He may not have got the goal his performance deserved, but make no mistake, he is absolutely central to the Austrian cause this tournament.

2. Arnautovic for Gregoritsch worked perfectly

Following the game against France, I pointed out the lack of fluidity in the Austria attack. I realize that the game didn’t show the Austria offense in the best light, as they were up against one of the best defensive lineups in the world and favorites for the tournament. But whenever Gregoritsch got a hold of the ball, possession was overturned, or the attack stagnated and came to nothing.

Marko Arnautovic started this game against Poland, and immediately made a nuisance of himself, using his mix of physicality and great technical ability to provide constant problems for the polish backline. He linked play brilliantly and wasn’t afraid to get physical in 50/50’s and offensive duels, and his penalty goal was the least he deserved.

3. Austria changes won them the game

Before the break, Astria were playing Konrad Laimer in the role behind Arnautovic, and while this showed promise in the early stages, the threat from this combination waned after the halfway point of the first period when Poland figured out how to shut off service to them.

At half time, Ralf Rangnick bought off Florian Grillitsch, playing in what's typical Laimer’s role deeper in the field, and introduced Patrick Wimmer, who then made a direct swap with Laimer. This move changed the game, and with Laimer in midfield running endlessly, the Austria backline suddenly had better protection, and his linkup play to Sabitzer and Wimmer allowed them to take more risks going forward.

It begs the question as to why Laimer didn't start deep in the first place, but hopefully Rangnick has now seen his value in breaking up dangerous opposition attacks and will start a more suited player to the attacking midfield role further up the pitch.

4. Zalewski

Zalewski was one of the few Poland players who carried over a quality performance against Netherlands into another one here against Dortmund. Constantly looking to beat his man down the left side, he was responsible for dragging his team forwards in the first half using his rapid pace and considerable trickery, and his marauding runs forward created a fair few half chances.

He ended up on the losing side, but he can hold his head high in both defeats in a way that few Poland players can, and bigger clubs will certainly be keeping a much closer eye on the 22-year-old Roma youngster.

5. Lewandowski Importance

It is such a shame for Poland that Lewandowski was indisposed for their first game against the Netherlands. Had he been on the pitch, Poland would have likely won a point from the game, and would have given themselves a real fighting chance of taking a shock 3 points. When he came on against Austria, Poland immediately tried to channel play through him , and they had a couple of opportunities within minutes of him being introduced.

Lewandowski’s presence and experience of world class center forward play allowed Poland to drive forwards in search of a winner. They were caught out on the attack and punished by the Austrians on this occasion, but with sustained pressure throughout a game with Lewandowski leading the line could certainly give their final group opponents France a problem or two.

Both sides now have until Tuesday to prepare for their final group games, where Austria take on the Netherlands, and Poland have the unenviable task of containing France

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer

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