Austria and Denmark will both be aiming to continue their perfect starts in the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League during their contest at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna on Monday night.
Ralf Rangnick‘s men swept aside Croatia 3-0 on the opening matchday in League A Group 1, while the visitors shocked reigning world champions France 2-1.
Saturday’s game would have been an extremely painful watch for Manchester United supporters after Rangnick could only lead their side to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, but it was difficult to take one’s eyes off the domineering display from the Austrians against the 2018 World Cup runners-up.
Marko Arnautovic, Michael Gregoritsch and Marcel Sabitzer all finished expertly to steer Das Team to a prolific opening-day victory and potentially signal the start of an exciting new era for Rangnick, who will not be leading Austria into the 2022 World Cup after their playoff defeat to Wales.
Nevertheless, life with the big boys has started swimmingly for Austria following their promotion from League B last term, and they find themselves at the summit of the fledgling standings after one game, but the unforgiving schedule will soon kick in.
Scoring 14 goals in their last five matches in all competitions – as well as making the net ripple in each of their last eight Nations League fixtures – Austria face two clashes with Denmark either side of a meeting with a France side seeking to lay down a marker this month.
Failure to keep a clean sheet in five home games will be a point of concern for Rangnick, though, and while his players left it all out on the field on Friday, whether they can produce a showing of a similar nature 72 hours later is another question entirely.
On a night where everything that could go wrong did go wrong for France – who were without head coach Didier Deschamps following the death of his father – Denmark stunned the world champions through an unlikely name to condemn Les Bleus to a 2-1 defeat.
Ballon d’Or contender Karim Benzema opened the scoring in some style for France, but an inspired substitution from Kasper Hjulmand saw Andreas Cornelius come off the bench to strike a 20-minute brace, with his second effort coming in the 88th minute of the contest.
Victory at the Stade de France certainly made the world stand up and take notice of Denmark if they had not already, with Hjulmand’s side sitting second in the Group 1 rankings early doors as they prepare for a World Cup which promises plenty for the small Nordic nation.
The Euro 2020 semi-finalists now head into Monday’s game having claimed 11 wins from their last 14 in all competitions, and it has been over a year since they last shared the spoils, which certainly makes for positive reading as they eye another impressive away-day scalp.
Furthermore, Denmark claimed a pair of 1-0 and 4-0 wins over Austria during their World Cup Qualifying battles last year, with Das Team’s most recent success in this fixture coming in 2010, but the new manager bounce is in full swing for the hosts under Rangnick.
Austria’s success over Croatia was all the more impressive given the absence of David Alaba, with the 92-cap defender granted extra time to recover after winning the Champions League final with Real Madrid and dealing with injury problems over the past few weeks.
Fellow centre-back Philipp Lienhart missed out due to a fever and is still uncertain for Monday’s clash, but Rangnick did not pick up any fresh concerns last time out and has some key decisions to make in order to balance team harmony and the packed fixture list.
Gregoritsch, Christoph Baumgartner and Christopher Trimmel all represent competent options off the bench for Austria, while Arnautovic is in line to become only the third male player to make 100 appearances for the nation.
Meanwhile, Cornelius’s game-changing introduction for Denmark came after Kasper Dolberg had sustained an apparent shoulder injury early doors, but the Nice man was still able to complete an hour before his withdrawal.
It would certainly not be a surprise to see Cornelius rewarded with a start in this one as Hjulmand remains cautious over Dolberg’s condition, while Brentford’s Christian Norgaard was not involved at all against France due to injury.
As is the case with Rangnick, Hjulmand would ideally like to keep changes to a minimum for Monday’s battle, but Mikkel Damsgaard is pushing to displace Daniel Wass in the wide areas.
Austria possible starting lineup:
Lindner; Wober, Danso, Trauner; Trimmel, Laimer, Sabitzer, Baumgartner, Weimann; Gregoritsch, Arnautovic
Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Vestergaard, Andersen, Nelsson; Maehle, Hojbjerg, Delaney, Damsgaard; Eriksen; Skov Olsen, Cornelius