herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Alaba's partying a new blow for Austria

Austria’s David Alaba. Pic: Getty
Austria’s David Alaba. Pic: Getty

Austria in crisis and Serbia on the rise: reads like the timeline for the pre-war Europe of 1914 but that's the scenario in Group D of the World Cup qualifiers this week, the impact of the most recent matches still being felt.

From a background of misery when they threw away valuable points at home to Ireland in September, Serbia have got their World Cup bid back on track with back to back wins, putting them joint top of the table while Austria are in serious danger of getting left behind in the race towards Russia 2018.

Photos in the Serbian media of Austria's star man David Alaba partying away in a Belgrade nightclub hours after Austria's 3-2 loss there on Sunday night have not gone down well, with Austrian fans or with his employers Bayern Munich. Austria had a near full house for their last home game, last Thursday's 2-2 draw with Wales, but Austrian FA officials are already worried about disgruntled fans voting with their feet and staying away from the crucial next home match, against Ireland in four weeks' time.

Boss Marcel Koller will spend the time in between analysing what's gone wrong, as a side which went to Euro 2016 tipped as tournament dark horses have flopped, Austria conceding six goals in three qualifiers to date.

"We will analyse the games against Wales and Serbia together and draw our conclusions. The players have already shown many times, how they can play and what they are capable of. Exactly this kind of performance is what they will need to show again in the game against Ireland," says Koller.

Serbia, fired by the form of English-based stars Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic, have their confidence back but Newcastle man Mitrovic feels the group will go right down to the wire.

"Wales dropped two points against Georgia, so there will be a lot of uncertainty between now and the end of the group," says Mitrovic, who scored twice in the win over Austria.

"We all know that nothing is done until the last qualifier and each point is very, very important."

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