The ÖFB team boss is the focus of the test match against his German homeland. The 65-year-old moderates everything explosive, but still enjoys the special meaning.
Ralf Rangnick sat on the podium in the media room of the Happel Stadium on Monday and immediately caused the first laugh. When asked how often he recently commented on the importance of the game Austria against Germany (Tuesday, 8:45 p.m./live ORF1, ZDF) was asked, he answered succinctly: “Often.”
Radio silence, no further explanation from the ÖFB team boss. Only when asked did he admit that this duel was interesting and exciting for him personally, but that it was a special game.
The German skillfully moderated the questions from the German media, sometimes even letting them go nowhere. What were the discussions with the DFB like after the expulsion of Hansi Flick? Rangnick brushes off the topic: “There were never any discussions. I chose Austria back then and everything has been going in the right direction since then.”
The 65-year-old also didn’t get involved in the game of who would be the favorite on Tuesday in Vienna’s Prater or whether Austria should currently be placed above Germany. Captain sat next to him David Alaba grinned, wary of making a statement that could be used against him.
And so he verbally and skillfully circumvented the balance of power: “We don’t need to hide from any opponent. Germany has world-class individual players and absolutely the potential to play successful football at the European Championships. Even if the results haven’t been that good recently.” No word that Austria might be favorites at home in Vienna in front of their home crowd this time. What a headline that would have made!
The one-two between Alaba and Rangnick worked. The team boss pointed out that over the past 18 months they had proven that they could keep up with strong nations and act on an equal footing. Like against France, Croatia or exactly a year ago in Vienna when they beat European champions Italy in a test. This time too, the European Championship starter would like to end the international year on a positive note.
What Rangnick says about DFB coach Nagelsmann
What is special about this encounter is the many personal contacts between players and coaches from both nations. So Rangnick was Germany’s national coach Julian Nagelsmann once brought to Leipzig because he was convinced of their game idea. People know each other. “I kept in touch with Julian after that, but not since he became national coach.” There will also be little time to chat around the game on Tuesday.
Alaba is looking forward to seeing you again Antonio Rüdiger, with whom he defends shoulder to shoulder for Real Madrid. “Of course I have been in contact with him in the last few days, and also with players from Bayern Munich.” He sees Rüdiger as the Germans’ head of defense, with Alaba himself taking on this role at Real. “He impresses with his style, his presence and aggressiveness. He reads a game well and opens the game well.” Alaba doesn’t have a negative word to say to his teammate or Tuesday’s opponent.
Rangnick is primarily concerned with the development of the team; a game against Germany will provide further information before the EURO draw on December 2nd. Austria is drawn from pot 2. “When I look at some of the nations in the top three, I don’t know whether that’s an advantage,” Rangnick shows little euphoria. “We still have five tests before the European Championships, the one against Germany is the first.” And probably the most explosive.