Croatia dominated the game for the first half hour, but the Austrian national team celebrated at the end. Under the new coach Ralf Rangnick, the Nations League got off to a perfect start, and the local press celebrated the German. But he's not in a party mood.
"Madness!" wrote Ralf Rangnick's new employer. And the Austrian newspapers also outdid themselves in praising the first appearance of the Austrian national soccer team under the direction of the 63-year-old soccer teacher from Germany. For the "Standard" the entertainment value increased "to the almost utopian". The "Kleine Zeitung" commented: "They didn't shy away from playing with fire either, what came before was sent into oblivion, risk, what more could you want?"
But Rangnick remained whole Rangnick. "There's no big reason to celebrate yet," said the Swabian after the 3-0 victory over Croatia. "There is no reason to get euphoric yet," emphasized the former coach and, above all, development accelerator for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, among others.
And yet the success in the first game of his tenure and the start of the Nations League was a first indication. After all, the opponent was called Croatia, and the vice world champion also determined the game in the first half hour at home. "We didn't get access to practically any phase," Rangnick complained.
However, his switch from a three-man to a four-man chain had an effect. "I think we completely controlled the game in the second half. It could have gone even higher at the very end," stressed Rangnick, who was able to rely on other professionals with Bundesliga experience as well as a good old friend from times together.
Former Germany legionnaire Marko Arnautovic (41st minute) with his 33rd goal in 99th international match, plus Michael Gregoritsch from FC Augsburg (54th) and Munich's Marcel Sabitzer (57th), whom Rangnick once brought to RB Leipzig , scored the goals for the (remaining) 34. the world rankings. "Everyone wants to show again that we want to get back up and that we're just a good team," said Arnautovic, who first celebrated the first victory with his colleagues with loud music in the cabin before flying back to Vienna.
Because the next game is on Monday there, opponent then: Denmark. And be careful: The Danes arrive with a 2-1 win against world champions France. The Austrians play against the French again on Friday in the capital and on the following Monday again against the Danes at the end of the first Nations League block.
After that, at the latest, they will also have clarity as to where the path under Rangnick can lead. Under his predecessor Franco Foda, Austria missed out on participating in the World Cup at the end of the year. At the end of April, the association bosses then announced Rangnick's commitment, at the time still a coach at Manchester United. The big goal: The EM in Germany in 2024. Rangnick's contract runs until then. If he manages to qualify, the cooperation will be extended until the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the USA.
"It's not about satisfaction, it's about football in Austria," emphasized head of the association Gerhard Milletich after the victory over the Croatians. "That's why this success is very important and confirms that our decision to go with Rangnick was the right one." And defender Maximilian Wöber summed it up after the first game under Rangnick and a short period of getting to know each other and agreeing: "That's exactly how everyone in Austria imagines the national team."