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Miracle of Cordoba

Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria will invoke the spirit of Cordoba against Germany and the prize this time can be more than just a sense of schadenfreude.
By HT Correspondent | Reuters, Tenero (switzerland)
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2008 12:41 AM IST

Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria will invoke the spirit of Cordoba against Germany on Monday and the prize this time could be more than just a sense of schadenfreude.

At the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, an Austrian team with no chance of qualification beat West Germany 3-2 to take the reigning champions out of the tournament with them.

Thirty years on from that great upset, Austria have a chance to go one better.

A point would be enough for Germany to go through as Group B runners-up behind Croatia but victory for Austria could take them into the last eight at the expense of their old rivals, provided Poland do not beat Croatia by a bigger margin.

A 50,000 crowd will give the Austrians fervent backing in the capital but the cold reality is that Germany, despite a poor performance in their 2-1 defeat by Croatia, remain overwhelming favourites to get the point they need to go through.

That was acknowledged by Austria coach Josef Hickersberger, who played in that famous win in Cordoba — Austria’s only victory over Germany at a major tournament.

“You don’t often win against Germany, at least not if you are Austria,” he said.

Counter-attacking football

Germany’s goal will be to reproduce the sharp counter-attacking football that took them to a 2-0 win over Poland in their first match. "We see this is a challenge rather than a crisis,” centre-back Christoph Metzelder said at a news conference. Germany are always under pressure. It’s exceptionally high for this game but our team spirit is good and it’s just a matter of translating that on to the pitch.”

Germany, three times European champions, will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger after his red card against Croatia, and probably full-back Marcell Jansen, who has a shoulder injury.

Lukas Podolski, scorer of all three German goals so far, has overcome an ankle injury and will play. He is likely to shift up to attack alongside Miroslav Klose, with Mario Gomez losing his place after two unconvincing displays.

Clemens Fritz should drop back from midfield to right-back to cover the absence of Jansen, with Philipp Lahm moving over to the left. Thomas Hitzlsperger and Tim Borowski could then come into midfield to give the side more creativity.

Austria are also hit by the suspension of Sebastian Proedl, who picked up his second yellow card against Poland.

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