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Soccer-Sabitzer channelling Champions League pain into Austria last-16 bid

By Thomson Reuters Jun 23, 2024 | 9:37 AM

By Philip O’Connor

BERLIN (Reuters) – Marcel Sabitzer entered Austria’s Euro 2024 camp on the back of losing the Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund against Real Madrid but the midfielder said that was all behind him now as he focuses on getting his country into the last 16.

The Austrians, who face Netherlands in their final Group D game, lost their opener to France 1-0, but powered to a 3-1 win against Poland thanks in no small part to the efforts of Sabitzer and his fellow midfielder Christoph Baumgartner.

A win over the Dutch in Berlin on Tuesday could see Austria finish top or second and even a loss would leave them with a good chance of progress as one of four best third-placed teams.

The possibilities then really open up, Sabitzer said.

“I know that from the Champions League, especially this season. Once you’re on a run in the knockout phase anything can happen so the most important thing is to get through the group stage and into the round of 16 and then we’ll see what happens next,” he added.

The 30-year-old added that it took a while for him to get over the 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid but that he was now finding his best form again under Austria coach Ralf Rangnick, who has encouraged him to use his powerful shooting more.

“I was feeling very down (after the final), I think you could see that. I took a bit of time and now I have the strength and desire to really attack,” Sabitzer said.

Austria did not train on Sunday and went on a surprise outing, according to photographs on their Instagram account.

After some video analysis, the players were taken by bus to the Schlachtensee lake in south-west Berlin where the players were urged to go into the water to clear their heads ahead of the Netherlands game at the Olympiastadion.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)