Soccer-Arnautovic starting vs Ukraine as Austria seek first knockout spot
Austria's main striker Marko Arnautovic will start against Ukraine in their final Group C game on Monday, coach Franco Foda said, as his team look for the win that would secure their first knockout spot in a European Championship.
Austria's main striker Marko Arnautovic will start against Ukraine in their final Group C game on Monday, coach Franco Foda said, as his team look for the win that would secure their first knockout spot in a European Championship. Arnautovic missed their 2-0 loss to Netherlands earlier this week after being banned for a game following his verbal attack on an opponent in their 3-1 opening win over North Macedonia.
"We decided that Marko will play from the start and to announce it today," Foda told a news conference on Sunday. "That means our opponents know that now and can prepare for it but we are happy that he can play again.
"But we are not dependent only on Marko. He has his ability and quality, but many players have to take on responsibility tomorrow." Both Austria and Ukraine are on three points, the Netherlands are already through with two wins, while North Macedonia have yet to open their account after losing both of their games.
The top two in each of the six groups proceed to the round of 16 along with the four best third-placed finishers. "Against the Dutch we did well to reach the box but then in the last zone we lacked the final pass, the push. We attacked our opponents too little," Foda said. "We must improve that."
Forward Michael Gregoritsch was replaced just past the hour by Sasa Kalajdzic but neither could carve out any real chance against the Dutch. A draw is enough for Ukraine to secure a top two spot and could also potentially see the Austrians go through as well, but they want a win to make sure of progressing irrespective of any other result.
Their opening win over North Macedonia was their first ever at a Euro. "Not only for me but for every single player in the team this game is of extreme importance," Austria's captain David Alaba said. "It is like a final. We want to decide it in our favour and write history.
"We want to take this next step, reach our goal. The tension in the team is rising and every one of us is fired up for tomorrow."
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