Austria coach Marcel Koller believes that Wales were “lucky” to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
The two sides meet in a 2018 World Cup qualifier tonight and Koller’s claims that Wales enjoyed good fortune to make the last four in France adds further spice to the Vienna clash between the top seeds in Group D.
“It will be a close match tomorrow and I think we can win the game,” Koller said at his pre-match press conference. “You need to be lucky as well. That is what we saw in the Euros.
“Wales were lucky sometimes and sometimes you need to be lucky such as when a striker shoots against the crossbar or the post.
“During the Euros they were lucky that a match did not turn in another direction.
“I think that helped the Welsh team get a really good portion of self-confidence.
“Nobody really expected the Welsh team to be in the semi-finals before the European Championships.”
While Chris Coleman’s side marched into the semi-finals of the Euros, Austria were a major disappointment after an impressive qualifying campaign which saw them record nine wins and a draw.
Austria failed to win a single game at the finals – drawing one and losing two – and crashed out at the group stage. But they opened their World Cup campaign last month with a hard-fought 2-1 win in Georgia, while Wales were thrashing Moldova 4-0 at home.
Gareth Bale’s brace in that game took his international scoring record to 24 goals in 62 appearances and within four of equalling Ian Rush’s record Wales tally.
“What needs to be added is I think they are actually the favourites for this group.” Koller, pictured, said of Wales. “I don’t think Wales is only Bale, all the players try to create offensive possibilities and they are very dangerous. But we saw during the Euros he [Bale] can win games on his own.”
Wales midfielder Andy King is poised to win his 37th cap at the Ernst Happel Stadion with Aaron Ramsey again sidelined by injury. But the 27-year-old believes his side can overcome the absence of the Arsenal playmaker.
“It’s a massive blow to be without Aaron, his loss would weaken any team and we are no different from that,” said King. “But we’ve got a squad ethic here and we’re going to need that over the ten games of the campaign.”