Austria v Germany : Never Very Much Of A Border Battle


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West Germany striker KARL-HEINZ RUMMENIGGE of Bayern Munich attempts to avoid the challenge of Austria defender HERIBERT WEBER (19) of SK Rapid Vienna while Austria defender JOSEF DEGEORGI (4) of FC Admira Wacker Vienna and West Germany striker HORST HRUBESCH (9) of SV Hamburg watch during the important 1982 FIFA World Cup, Group 2 match at the Estadio Municipal El Molinon stadion in Gijon, Spain.
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The neighboring Alpine nations of AUSTRIA and GERMANY will meet for the 38th time in football history this Tuesday as the qualification matches for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Brazil continue to unfold as evidenced by Group 3 encounter at the Ernst Happel Stadion (the old Praterstadion) in the cultured city of Vienna.

Although many top Austrians players have always and certainly continue to ply their trade professionally on the other side of the border with Germany, the football “rivalry” between the two countries that speak a common language has been rather one-sided, to be polite, for the last 80 years or so.

Austria had been in charge with six victories in the first nine matches of a series which had originated in 1908 but the large 5-0 triumph over Germany on the strength of a hat trick from the legendary MATTHIAS SINDELAR in front of 50,000 spectators at the old Praterstadion in Vienna on September 14, 1931, marked the end of the positive era from the Austrian perspective.

Germany defeated Austria 3-2 to claim third place at the 1934 FIFA World Cup hosted by Italy in the only other meeting before the notorious Anschluss four years later and has not looked back on the football pitch ever since. Indeed, the dominant Germans have won 21 and while losing just twice in the last 28 official international matches with their Austrian counterparts. Germany have not lost since its reunification while it was back in 1986 that Austria last triumphed in this always-interesting border battle.

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No fewer than nine of Austria’s 23-man squad for the World Cup qualifier with Germany are currently employed by German Bundesliga clubs. Many are expected to appear in the Startelf for trainer MARCEL KOLLER, the long-time Grasshopper Club Zurich midfielder who earned 56 caps (three goals) for Switzerland in his playing career. Goalkeeper ROBERT ALMER (forever the old Pink Panther of Vienna Derby fame here at this blog) of newly-promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf is slated to start between the sticks with left back CHRISTIAN FUCHS of Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen as well as central defenders EMANUEL POGATETZ of Vfl Wolfsburg and SEBASTIAN PRODL of Werder Bremen all featuring on the backline for Austria.

Both Fuchs and Pogatetz are among two of the most experienced players on Koller’s squad having accumulated 48 international caps each.

The midfield of Oesterreich could see many faces familiar to German Bundesliga fans including winger MARTIN HARNIK of Vfb Stuttgart, who tallied 17 times in the German top flight last term and only just last week scored a spectacular goal with a superb volley against traditional giant Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Also in the center of the park there is the FSV 05 Mainz pair of JULIAN BAUMGARTLINGER and seasoned ANDREAS IVANSCHITZ, the 28-year-old with 56 caps (10 goals) who netted a penalty in Austria’s last international match, the 2-0 triumph over Turkey in mid-August. Werder Bremen midfielder ZLATKO JUNUZOVIC could very well come off the bench, as well.

Striker MARKO ARNAUTOVIC, the 23-year-old who has totaled nine goals in 46 Bundesliga games for Werder Bremen all told since transferring from Italian Serie A side Inter Milan in the summer of 2010, will begin up front for Austria.

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West Germany striker HORST HRUBESCH is closely watched by Austria sweeper BRUNO PEZZEY (5) of German club Eintracht Frankfurt, the stalwart defender who won the old UEFA Cup title with the Hessians in 1980 and ultimately made 255 Bundesliga appearances in his career including later time spent with Werder Bremen, during the crucial 1982 FIFA World Cup, Group 2 match at the Stadio Municipal El Mulinon in Gijon, Spain.
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The recently well-traveled MARC JANKO of Turkish side AS Trabzonspor, now with his fourth club in as many seasons, will, most likely, partner Arnautovic in the Austrian attack up front. The 29-year-old had been sold by Dutch club FC Twente Enschede to Portguese giant FC Porto for a transfer fee of 5.5 million Euros last winter. But after scoring four goals in 10 league matches for the eventual Portuguese champions last spring, Janko (27 caps, 11 goals) was again transferred this summer for the cut rate of 2.4 million Euros.

The Austrians definitely miss the services of the incapacitated DAVID ALABA, the extremely versatile 20-year-old who had enjoyed such a breakout season in the German Bundesliga for historical powerhouse Bayern Munich and settled into the left back position so nicely last term.

Another valuable Austria international injured most recently is PAUL SCHARNER (40 caps), the flexible, 32-year-old defender/midfielder who just moved this summer to German Bundesliga club SV Hamburg after seven seasons in the English Premier League with Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion.

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West Germany striker HORST HRUBESCH (9), the aerial specialist who had netted the match-winner against Belgium in the Final of the 1980 UEFA European Championships two years earlier, celebrates his early header hammered effectively past Austria goalkeeper FRIEDL KONCILIA (1) of FK Austria Vienna in only the 10th minute of the pivotal 1982 FIFA World Cup, Group 2 match at the Estadio Municipal El Mulinon in Gijon, Spain.

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