Saturday, June 15, 2013
Austria started as expected: they scored first against Spain. Spain equalized in the 21st minute. The first half ended 1-1 and that was expected to be the final result: Austria looked more aggressive, but experienced Spain was tough to beat. Spain neutralized the Austrian rush already, the second half was to maintain the parity – so it looked like. But it was not – Austria was slightly better in the second half, Spain struggled not to win, but just to preserve the tie. Austria deserved to win, but it was not easy to score. Yet, it happened:
The second match – against Sweden – was similar to the first. Austria concentrated on the battle for the midfield, trying to win the ball there and organize attacks. Opportunities were missed, but Austria was slightly better and eventually scored.
Austria had nothing to play for – their last group match was mere protocol. Yet, Austria played seriously against Brazil. The regulars were on the field and nobody tried to save energy for the second round. Austria was dangerous and far from giving up.
Curiously, Austria still stayed under the radar: it was recognized the Austrians were the most exciting team in Group 3, but nothing more than that. Their advancement was not a big surprise: the team was not an outsider and had its chances in the tough group, where luck more than skill mattered. One thing still kept Austria down – low scoring. Sweden scored a single goal. Spain and Brazil – two goals each. Austria – a 'record' three. Strong defenses? Great goalkeepers? Weak strikers? Teams too equal to be able to overcome each other? Or real favourites underperforming? Certainly Brazil was playing bellow expectations. Spain? A disappointment. Sweden – just a bit weaker than the rest. Austria, then, was may be a bit more lucky than the rest. A decent team, observers said and turned to 'real news' and concerns. To Brazil.
1. Austria 2 0 1 3-2 4
2. Brazil 1 2 0 2-1 4
3. Spain 1 1 1 2-2 3
4. Sweden 0 1 2 1-3 1