From David Alaba through Marcel Sabitzer up to the giant Sasa Kalajdzic, Austria coach Marco Foda could comfortably field a team at UEFA Euro 2020 solely featuring players from Germany’s Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg’s Pervan is the oldest of the three goalkeepers in Austria’s squad at 33 and also the most experienced at international level with seven caps. Born in former Yugoslavia, he came through the lower leagues in Austria to guide LASK to the first division in 2017 under Oliver Glasner, who would later coach him again at the Wolves. As back-up to Koen Casteels, he’s played 27 times across three seasons at the Volkswagen Arena.
The son of former Austria international Leo Lainer, Gladbach full-back Stefan has been the mainstay of the national team’s right side for the best part of three years and became only the third Austrian to score at a European Championship when he netted their opening goal in their first-ever win at the competition, against North Macedonia. While not known for his goalscoring at club level, the 28-year-old has emerged as one of the Foals’ most consistent performers and has only missed four of a possible 88 competitive fixtures since joining from Salzburg in 2019.
Dragovic is the most capped player in Austria’s Euro 2020 squad with 91 appearances after the first group game and has been one of the country’s first-choice centre-backs since 2013. The 30-year-old played more than 100 competitive matches over five years with Leverkusen before leaving for Red Star Belgrade at the end of the season just gone.
Hinti has developed a bit of a cult following in the Bundesliga during his time at Frankfurt. He joined Eintracht from Augsburg in the middle of the 2018/19 season after two-and-a-half years in Bavaria, having moved there from his homeland after coming through at Red Bull Salzburg and winning the domestic double four times. The centre-back has a proud record of 16 goals in 163 Bundesliga appearances, of which 11 have come in 74 games in Frankfurt colours. The uncompromising defender finished the 2020/21 campaign in the league’s top 10 for both outright challenges won and challenge success rate.
For years Austria wished they had several Alabas available to them. Since making his senior international debut in October 2009, he’s played at left-back, centre-back, left midfield and central midfield – all positions he’s played during over a decade of unparalleled success for Bayern that’s seen him become the most decorated player in Bundesliga history, win the treble twice and be crowned Austrian Footballer of the Year seven times, including six years in a row from 2011 to 2016.
Watch: Alaba's Bundesliga mixtape
Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg)
Together with Konrad Laimer, Wolfsburg’s Schlager forms a very dogged and determined central midfield pairing for Austria. He won the third-most challenges across the Bundesliga the past season as the Wolves qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in half a decade. The 23-year-old is an industrious box-to-box midfielder capable of having an impact at both ends. He started all but four of Wolfsburg’s Bundesliga games in 2020/21, of which two he was unavailable for, and shielded the league’s second-meanest defence, as well as contributing two goals and four assists to the attacking cause.
Alongside Lainer there was Laimer in the four-man midfield for the opening group game of Euro 2020. Leipzig’s 24-year-old was only handed his international debut by current coach Foda in June 2019 and was a key figure in qualifying with five assists, but a serious ankle injury meant he missed almost all of 2020/21. Capable of playing anywhere across the midfield, winning the ball back and distributing it, Laimer has become a crucial figure for club and country.
Onisiwo has had to bide his time with Austria. He earned his first two caps in 2015 and 2016, but it wasn’t until 2019 as a 27-year-old that he finally started making regular appearances for the national team. The forward comes into the Euros on the back of a decent season with Mainz that produced four goals. No teammate had more attempts on goal than Onisiwo, who has known Alaba from their childhood together in Vienna. Their fathers even knew each other back when the pair lived in Lagos, Nigeria.
Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig)
The Leipzig captain has been a part of the Austria setup going back to 2012 when Marcel Koller handed him his international debut as an 18-year-old. Nine years later, he has over 50 caps and is now one of his nation’s most prized possessions. In a transition similar to that of Germany legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sabitzer has progressed from a right winger to the beating heart in central midfield. Under Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig, he’s added defensive responsibility alongside his attacking flair that has seen him score 32 goals in 143 Bundesliga matches, including a team-leading eight as Die Roten Bullen finished runners-up in 2020/21.
Hoffenheim’s Baumgartner is the youngest member of Austria’s Euro squad at 21 but already one of his country’s main men. The attacking all-rounder joined Hoffenheim’s youth system in 2017 and broke into the first team at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. He’s since made 71 senior appearances for TSG, scoring 16 goals from a variety of positions, and has become a livewire for the Sinsheim team. He was among the best players at the club for shots taken and shots created in the past season, finishing with two goals and three assists.
Watch: All 16 of Kalajdzic's Bundesliga goals in 2020/21
Kalajdzic may stand at 6’6’’, but few people saw him coming. A cruciate ligament injury in pre-season meant he missed almost all of Stuttgart’s promotion-winning Bundesliga 2 campaign in 2019/20, but the striker made up for lost time on his Bundesliga bow the following year. The 23-year-old finished sixth in the division’s scoring chart with 16 goals (and five assists) in 33 games, of which a league-leading eight were headers and also included a run of seven straight games on the scoresheet that equalled Fredi Bobic’s club record. Although still a newcomer on the international stage – having only made his senior debut in October 2020 – he’s now the focal point of the Austrian attack and had three goals from seven caps prior to the Euros.