Austria does not want to be awestruck in its first meeting with Italy’s top club AC Milan. The Viennese will kick off the Europa League group stage on Thursday (7:00 p.m., live on Puls 4, Sky and in the VIENNA.at-Liveticker) as clear underdogs at the Ernst Happel Stadium, but want to surprise in this role. "We have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain," Florian Klein outlined the motto.
Before the duel with the seven-time Champions League winners and 18-time Italian champions, the starting position is clearly in favor of the guests. Milan bought in the summer for over 230 million euros. The club wants to present itself internationally again after three seasons without participating in the European Cup. Interest seems to be high. According to UEFA, 62 TV channels will broadcast the match live in Vienna. Austria expects 30.000 to 40.000 visitors at the Prater Oval.
Thorsten Fink: This is how Austria wants to hold its own against Milan
"This is a highlight for every player. The chance to prove it to yourself that you can keep up," Klein said the day before the match. The Violette returnee is used to a full Happel Stadium due to his national team appearances. Most recently, Austria also played against a Serie A club in front of a similar crowd. In November last year, AS Roma won 4-2 after Austria had previously hailed a 3-3 draw in Rome.
The Austrian team draws courage from the sense of achievement at that time. "Against a top team, it’s always difficult to make your mark. But we want to try," said coach Thorsten Fink. So it wouldn’t do any good to be locked in front of your own box. "We can’t rely only on counterattacks. We also need periods of possession, otherwise they will crush us," Fink stressed.
Fink was on site for Milan-Debal as a spy
Except for the long-term injured Robert Almer, Alexander Grunwald and Lucas Venuto, Austria can rely on all regulars. Tarkan Serbest is expected to return to the starting eleven after suffering a blistered knee. In attack, Christoph Monschein should get the chance to prove his skills against star defender Leonardo Bonucci. Milan’s 4-1 defeat at Lazio Roma on Sunday proved that Milan’s defense can also be shaky. Fink was sitting in the stands.
Certainly he had seen in Rome weaknesses in the Milanese, said Fink. "But there are not many."So it will certainly be difficult to score a goal. Apart from the Lazio defeat, Milan had previously conceded just one goal in six competitive games this season. Like Austria, the "Rossoneri" made it to the Europa League via qualification. Uni Craiova (1:0, 2:0) and Shkendija Tetovo (6:0, 1:0) did not pose any major hurdles.
"Have enough quality to also annoy Milan"
Austria wants to approach the task as a "clear outsider" (Fink) cheeky and carefree. "We want to show why we could annoy Roma away from home. We have enough quality to annoy even Milan," said Fink. Sporting director Franz Wohlfahrt stressed that Austria had respect for all its opponents in view of its other group opponents, AEK Athens and HNK Rijeka. "But we don’t want to slip into the role of victims, we also want to score points." Best already for the opener. Wohlfahrt: "Football is not always about money. This is our chance."
Historically, Austria has only once been allowed to savour the pleasure of success against an Italian team. Inter Milan was defeated in the 1983 UEFA Cup – with Wohlfahrt on the bench – in the Happel Stadium with a score of 2:1. Otherwise, in twelve duels with Italy’s representatives, the Favorites have lost six times and drawn five times. Milan lost only once in nine games against an Austrian team, in 1957 in the Champions Cup against Rapid (2:5).