Alaba hopes for a successful EM start
Before the start of the European Championship for the Austrian soccer team on Sunday (6 p.m. / live ORF 1) in Bucharest against North Macedonia, memories of the completely messed up ÖFB start at EURO 2016 are awakened. Back then, Austria lost 2-0 as the clear favorite against Hungary after David Alaba hit the bar after a few seconds. However, the future Real Madrid professional does not want to take part in mental games of how the tournament would have gone if it had been 1-0 early.
Alaba emphasized on Friday in Seefeld that he had finished with the events of that time and was looking ahead. “I don't know what would have happened if the ball had been in, I didn't really think about it either. It's all in the past, the focus is on the future,” said the Viennese.
Despite the disappointing performance, Alaba emphasized that he benefited from the finals in France. “I grew from it. That definitely shaped me somehow.” The 28-year-old did not want to make comparisons between the current ÖFB squad and that of 2016. “Back then we had different strengths than we do today. But in terms of quality across the board, we are perhaps even stronger than in 2016.”
The moods are definitely not comparable – there is currently nothing of the euphoria before the finals in France, which, according to Alaba, could be an advantage. “It is certainly more pleasant when the pressure is not so great and the expectations are not so high, but we don't even deal with that. We have a squad with huge potential. We have to bring that onto the field now.”
If this succeeds, skepticism can quickly turn into enthusiasm. “We want to pull the whole country with us. We can already feel the support of the fans, we want to make them happy and carried away, and that from the first game,” said Alaba.
If it does not work out with a victory against North Macedonia, however, nothing will be lost, so Alaba. “It's not an 'all or nothing' game. But of course the first match is very important for confidence and rhythm.”
The newcomer to the European Championship should not be underestimated, Alaba warned, referring to the North Macedonians' World Cup qualifying victory in Germany in March. “You saw what they are capable of. They have their strengths in switching from defensive to offensive.”
Nevertheless, the ÖFB selection against number 62 in the FIFA world rankings had the upper hand twice recently. In the 2019 European Championship qualification there was a 4: 1 away and a 2: 1 at home. In the latter game, Alaba scored his 14th and so far last international goal. The fact that there have been no more hits since then does not cause the two-time Champions League winner to worry. “First and foremost, I want to help the team.”
In what role Alaba should put this project into practice is open. Possible positions as a left-back, in the midfield center or on the wing. “I'm a flexible player and I will give my all, no matter where I play,” promised the ÖFB star.
Alaba has played numerous important games with FC Bayern in his career, but the match in Bucharest is of particular importance. “It is very important to me, but also to the whole country. That is why we want to throw everything into the balance in order to perform as well as possible,” announced Alaba.