Here are a few of my thoughts following the game:
I.) That’s a tough goal to lose against in stoppage time. I was surprised that Robert Almer got the start in goal, but he made some good stops, including the excellent double save in the first half. If I have one complaint about that one is that Sebastian Prodl could have been tighter on Devic, but considering it was a one-touch shot it’s hard to criticize.
II.) Time for me to eat some crow. I had stated that I anticipated seeing 4 or 5 in the midfield, so it came as a big surprise to see Austria starting with Janko, Arnautovic, and Harnik all on the field as the strike force. The side continued with 3 in the midfield until the 60th minute with Kavlak coming on for Harnik.
III.) It’s a friendly, under a new manager, so to have only 1 substitute doesn’t make any sense. Austria only had one match while many other nations played 2, so I felt it was imperative to get as many people on the field getting minutes as possible. Koller made one substitution, so some of the younger players such as Junuzovic and Hoffer weren’t able to gain any more experience. At this point, with WC 2014 qualification beginning next fall, these matches provide great opportunities to see which young players can hold their own at this level.
IV.) It appears that under Marcel Koller, Austria’s shooting philosophy may become “You won’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket”. Austria certainly outshot the opposition, but many were just past the post. The Austrians had two great opportunities in the second half; Janko had plenty of time in the 51st minute, but his shot had lottery numbers 1-1-1-1. Baumgartlinger had a ferocious shot in the closing minutes that ricocheted back into play. If a red shirt was closer to it, then this match would have ended 2-2.
This match was not an ideal way to end the year, but this team and the formation they played made it more exciting than matches in the past. I just wish we would have seen more players get an opportunity in front of the new manager.