Austria - Malta Preview: Das Team begin Euro 2016 preparations versus Falcons

Match preview of Tuesday evening's Euro 2016 warm-up friendly game between Austria and Malta in Wothersee.

Austria - Malta Preview: Das Team begin Euro 2016 preparations versus Falcons
Photo: Christian Hofer / Bongarts

Marcel Koller's Austria will begin their Euro 2016 preparations with the first of two friendlies before their tournament begins in two weeks time.

The Das welcome minnows Malta to the lake-side alpine town of Wörthersee in the Austrian Alps for a game, that whilst doing little to suggest current form, is nevertheless an important part of Austrian preparation for the European Championships in France.

First of two friendlies for Koller's men

Koller will likely stick to the same unit that has guided Austria in being unbeaten during qualifying for the finals.

It is an important period for his side, as despite winning their last nine Group G qualifying games, Austria have been victorious in just one of their last five friendly encounters - beating Albania, but losing to Brazil, Turkey and neighbours Switzerland.

After the initial friendly, Koller will cut one name from his provisonal 24-man squad, so it is an important clash for all involved.

Austrian fancied for strong tournament

The Austrians lurk quietly in the shadows as a team that a lot of people fancy for a strong tournament. David Alaba is arguably their star attraction and will play in an altered central midfield role, but the Bayern Munich man is not the only talented individual in their versatile ranks. 

Marco Arnautovic could star for Marcel Koller's men (photo:getty)
Marco Arnautovic could star for Marcel Koller's men (photo:getty)

Names like Premier League trio Christian Fuchs, Kevin Wimmer and Marco Arnautovic may be more familiar individuals, but it might just be the lesser-known faces like Bayer Leverkusen's new midfielder, Julian Baumgartlinger, Werder Bremen's Zlatko Junuzovic and Dynamo Kyiv defender Aleksandar Dragovic, that could take Koller's side into the knockout stages and beyond.

Maltese arrive on back of heavy defeat

Austria's opponents Malta roll into the Alps in the pique of a heavy defeat to Czech Republic, losing 6-0 on Friday evening in Kufstein, with six different names on the scoresheet.

Pietro Ghedin's men - ranked 165 in the FIFA rankings - are unlikely to cause their opponents too many problems, with veteran striker Michael Mifsud, skippering the side. Koller's men will however, want to record a clean sheet and get his key men firing on all cylinders.

Austria will then travel to the capital and Vienna, as the Ernst-Happel-Stadion will entertain Netherlands on Saturday - who like Malta will not be particpating in this summer's tournament - in front of 50,000 fans keen to give their heroes a sendoff.

Then will begin Austria's French pilgrimage across the border.