England will start their preparations for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2020 with a warm-up friendly encounter against Austria on Wednesday night.

With the club football season behind us, international football takes centre stage for the next month or so. In Europe, nations will be involved in the UEFA Euro 2020 which starts in over a week. Teams will kickstart preparations for the mega tournament this midweek with warm-up friendlies. One such clash will see England square off against Austria at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday.

For England, this is a chance to turn all the progress that has been achieved under Gareth Southgate into tangible success at the Euros. Indeed, the Three Lions are shaping up nicely, having won their last four games in a row and will be hoping to carry forward that momentum into the European championships by picking up victories in the warm-up encounters.

Austria, meanwhile, are in need of a revival of form heading into the summer extravaganza. Having won five games in a row towards the end of the last year, Das Team has picked up just one victory in their last four, getting hammered 4-0 by Denmark in their most recent fixture in March. And manager Franco Foda will be aiming to get his team up and running before the Euros kick off.

This will be the first meeting between England and Austria in over thirteen years. And ahead of this warm-up clash coming our way from Middlesbrough, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

England

Gareth Southgate, having named a provisional 33-man squad for the Euros, trimmed down the list to 26 earlier on Tuesday, with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse, Ben White, Ben Godfrey and Aaron Ramsdale not making the cut. Lingard, Watkins and Ward-Prowse have stayed back with the team though and Southgate has confirmed that Lingard will be starting against Austria on Wednesday.

The big news, though, is that Trent Alexander-Arnold is back in the England squad after missing the last set of international fixtures in March. Harry Maguire is part of the squad but is unlikely to be involved given his injury towards the end of the season. Jordan Henderson will be eased into action considering he has not played since February while Kalvin Phillips is also a slight injury doubt and might not be risked.

The Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea players are likely to be used sparingly as well following their involvements in the European finals. Southgate set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation during the last international break and could continue with a similar shape on Wednesday with Dean Henderson likely to get a run-out in goal ahead of first-choice Jordan Pickford.

Alexander-Arnold should get the nod at right-back while Kieran Trippier could slot in on the left, having done so in the past under Southgate. The duo of Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings is likely to pair up at the heart of the England defence. They will be shielded by Declan Rice, who is a shoo-in as the holding midfielder, while Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish slot in as the two attack-minded midfielders offering the drive from the centre.

Up top, England captain Harry Kane should start, looking to get into the groove for the big tournament. He is likely to be supported by Manchester United-linked Jadon Sancho on the right wing, while Lingard slots in on the left. The likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin will all be options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Henderson; Alexander-Arnold, Coady, Mings, Trippier; Bellingham, Rice, Grealish; Sancho, Kane, Lingard

Austria

For Austria, there are no major surprises in the squad named by manager Franco Foda, with the likes of Heinz Lindner, Philipp Mwene, Husein Balic and Adrian Grbic getting axed from the initially named provisional squad. For the warm-up clash against England, however, the visitors are set to be without key forwards Marko Arnautovic and Karim Onisiwo while captain Julian Baumgartlinger is also a doubt due to illness.

In addition, Valentino Lazaro also misses out due to travel restrictions in England after he was away on a short trip to Dubai following the end of the 2020/21 season. David Alaba, who recently completed a transfer to Real Madrid, is available for selection. Foda has generally preferred the 4-2-3-1 formation and should use the same setup at the Riverside Stadium this midweek against the Three Lions.

Alexander Schlager could get the nod between the sticks ahead of the experienced Pavao Pervan and the uncapped Daniel Bachmann. Stefan Lainer and Andreas Ulmer are likely to be the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, flanking the centre-back partnership of Aleksandar Dragovic and Martin Hinteregger, with Alaba set to be used higher up the pitch.

VfL Wolfsburg’s impressive midfielder Xaver Schlager ought to take up one of the two slots in the midfield pivot and with Baumgartlinger a doubt, he could be paired up with Stefan Ilsanker. Key man Marcel Sabitzer will take up the onus of creating chances and scoring goals from the No. 10 role for the visitors.

Sabitzer will have attacking support from Christoph Baumgartner on the right wing, while Alaba slots in on the left flank, with Sasa Kalajdzic, who had an impressive 2020/21 season in Bundesliga, likely to spearhead the attack.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): A. Schlager; Lainer, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Ulmer; Ilsanker, X. Schlager; Baumgartner, Sabitzer, Alaba; Kalajdzic

Key Stats

  • This will be the 19th meeting between England and Austria. The former have the upper-hand in head-to-head record having won ten of the previous eighteen clashes, while the latter have won just four (D4).
  • The last contest between England and Austria took place in November 2007 in a friendly which the Three Lions won 1-0.
  • England have won each of their last four games in all competitions, keeping three clean sheets and conceding just one goal during this run.
  • Austria have lost just one of their last nine games in all competitions (W6 D2), although that defeat came in their most recent fixture against Denmark.
  • Since October 2019, England have lost just two of their last 14 games (W11, D1).

Player to Watch

Trent Alexander-Arnold

When Gareth Southgate decided to axe Trent Alexander-Arnold from the England squad for the set of fixtures in March, it created a lot of headlines. Although the exclusion was justified at the time owing to the Liverpool star’s up-and-down form, it did come as a bit of a shock. So, heading into the Euros, all the talk was whether the young right-back would be able to work his way back into the squad for the tournament or not.

And, following a strong finish to the season, Alexander-Arnold has been able to earn his place back in the roster, and deservedly so. Now with Reece James also impressing heavily and the veteran duo of Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier being no slouches, it is up to the Liverpool ace to prove that he should be the one starting when the Euros kick off. And, a strong showing in the warm-ups will help him achieve just that.

Prediction

England 2-0 Austria

England will not be fielding their full-strength side on Wednesday. But given the quality of options at Gareth Southgate’s disposal, any team that will take the field at the Riverside Stadium will be extremely hard to beat. The Three Lions were in good nick during the last international break as well and should be able to restart from where they left off against Austria this midweek.

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