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ESPN FC's Euro 2016 awards

Euro 2016

Euro 2016 team preview: Up-and-coming Austria can make KO rounds

Group F: Portugal | Iceland | Austria | Hungary

Austria have never qualified directly for a European Championship before, though they competed at Euro 2008 as co-hosts and fell in the group stage. With their best generation in years, Austria could make a run to the quarterfinals.

How they qualified: First in Group D

Austria were brilliant in qualifying and dropped only two points as they sailed through Group D and finished eight points ahead of second-placed Russia. They recorded memorable victories in Moscow and Stockholm -- with a stunning 4-1 triumph against the latter -- and played some fine football.

How they'll proceed:

Although they are unlikely to win the trophy, Austria are an intriguing dark horse to cause some surprises. If they finish runners-up to Portugal, they would be handed a favourable-looking last-16 tie with the second-placed team in Group B, and a place in the last eight should not be beyond them.

TBD by Editor
Austria will hope for a better showing than they had at Euro 2008 when, as co-hosts, they failed to win a game.

Predicted lineup:

(4-3-3); GK: Robert Almer; DF: Florian Klein, Sebastian Prodl, Aleksandar Dragovic, Christian Fuchs; MF: David Alaba, Julian Baumgartlinger, Martin Harnik, Zlatko Junuzovic, Marko Arnautovic; FW: Marc Janko.

Key player: David Alaba

The Bayern Munich man starts in midfield but appears all over the pitch, keeping the ball moving slickly for an attractive, vibrant side. A very modern player, Alaba is Austria's first world-class player in many years, and his quality can help them through the group.

Manager: Marcel Koller

The Swiss took over in 2011 after spells in Germany with Cologne and Bochum and has turned Austria's fortunes around after an encouraging World Cup qualifying campaign set the groundwork for subsequent success. As a player, Koller won 56 Switzerland caps.


June 14 vs. Hungary (Noon ET/4 p.m. GMT; Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)

June 18 vs. Portugal (3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT; Parc des Princes, Paris)

June 22 vs. Iceland (Noon ET/4 p.m. GMT; Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
-- LIVE on ESPN2

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