BREDA, August 3, 2017 - Austria coach Dominik Thalhammer immediately noticed the increased media presence in Breda compared with the “good, old times” at Deventer where the Austrians opened their Euro campaign against Switzerland amid a “much more familiar” atmosphere.
At the beginning of the UEFA Women´s EURO 2017, nobody expected Austria to beat opponents such as Switzerland and Spain and draw against France.
Now, on the eve of the semi-finals, observers have marveled at the stellar and surprising performance of the Alpine republic.
Coach Thalhammer said: “Before the tournament, we didn´t really know where we stood. Now we do.”
Captain Viktoria Schnaderbeck underlined a team spirit which has become almost legendary after videos of polonaises through the mixed zone appeared on social media.
She said: “We have pretty much rocked the Euros with our typical team spirit and with our determination. Our performance will not only have an impact on women´s football in Austria but in the whole of Europe."
Thalhammer outlined how his team´s success had changed not only the perception of women´s football but also his team.
He said: “The successful start in this tournament has shaped our performance and we just realized as we went along that we are much more confident as a team that we can do anything if we set our mind to it and work hard for it.
Sometimes you are just in a flow and you don´t even completely understand why.”
Even after we qualified for the Euros last autumn we knew that, if we wanted to perform well, we needed to change some things.
"So we sat down and started planning. But even more important than developing a strategy is that you have players in your team who are prepared to walk this path with you and to bring your strategies onto the pitch.”
Although we are, of course, a little nervous, we are at the same time already very focused on the game. But we also enjoy the tournament so much. If it were down to us, we could stay here forever.”
Thalhammer emphasized the importance of this tournament to the staff as well as the players.
He said: “We, the training staff, talked yesterday about how this moment is probably the peak of our careers in football and how we appreciated every minute of it.
This summed up perfectly where the Austrian team stand at this moment of their history. Fierce and determined, they are ready to face their biggest challenge yet – their first semi-final in an international tournament.
Follow Clara Reimitz on Twitter @cmreimitz