Austria v Croatia, Group B
Ernst Happel, Vienna
8 June 2008
Kick-off: 18:00 CET
A historical moment awaits on Sunday as Euro 2008 hosts Austria play their first ever match at a European Championship. Opponents are Croatia, who managed to keep England out of this tournament.
Ten years after participating at their last World Cup, Austria now prepare to do well in front of a home crowd. It won’t be easy though, as the Austrians are widely considered to be the weakest team at Euro 2008.
But this doesn’t stop manager Josef Hickersberger from hoping for the best: “Our team has developed positively over the past two years. With a good day and some luck, anything is possible.”
Hickersberger gives his team a “40 percent chance” to win their match with Croatia.
Croatia, third at the 1998 World Cup, appear to be confident ahead of their opening match.
Coach Slaven Bilic revealed to be sticking to the line-up he has been using in the recent friendly matches with Moldova and Hungary.
With Robert Kovac in defense, Darijo Srna and Niko Kovac in midfield and an attack led by Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic, the team do look set to impress in Vienna.
The location of the match is the Ernst Happel Stadium of Austria’s capital city, also the venue of the 1995 Champions League final.
The last time these two teams met was for a friendly in Austria in May, 2006. Croatia were by far the stronger side, securing a 4-1 win.
Referee for Sunday’s match is Dutchman Pieter Vink, helped by assistants Adriaan Inia and Hans ten Hoove. Fourth official is the Greek Dimitris Bozatzidis.