Austria can’t just focus on Ronaldo, says Fuchs


Paris (AFP) – Austria captain Christian Fuchs said his side cannot afford to overlook Cristiano Ronaldo’s supporting cast when they take on Portugal in Euro 2016 Group F on Saturday.

Austria go into their second group game at the Parc des Princes seeking their first points of the tournament after a shock 2-0 defeat to Hungary in their opening fixture.

Although Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo poses the biggest threat to an Austrian team at risk of crashing out early, Fuchs said they cannot focus solely on Portugal’s talisman.

“This team is not only Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s Nani, there’s Pepe who just won the Champions League. They’re a great team with a lot of class players,” Fuchs told reporters on Friday.

“If you take Cristiano Ronaldo out the game, then the next player can decide the game too.

“I had a few games already against him with Schalke before and he’s the type of player you can never really defend for the whole game. 

“You have to defend as a team and try to avoid one-on-one situations, but then there’s the problem you might forget about the other players surrounding him.” 

Coach Marcel Koller will make at least two enforced changes with centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic suspended following his dismissal against Hungary and Zlatko Junuzovic sidelined with damaged ankle ligaments.

The former Swiss international refused to confirm who would replace the duo, but admitted there would be a tactical change.

“We have to play differently than how we played against Hungary,” said Koller.

“We have to do three things: be more efficient with our chances, play more calmly and be more compact in defence.”

Fuchs said spirits were low after the Hungary defeat, but the Leicester City defender vowed he and his team-mates were ready to atone.

After the Hungary game, “we had an attitude where we said it hasn’t been too good, but now we will fight harder than ever.

“Now we will face Portugal, a very difficult opponent but we’ve shown in the past that no matter what team we play against we can put up a great fight.”

Austria breezed through qualifying, dropping just two points in 10 matches, but suffered three defeats in five friendlies leading up to Euro 2016.

Fuchs though was hopeful of an improved display with their tournament fate hanging in the balance.

“I think it’s always difficult to compare it to preparation matches where we’ve tried a lot of things, but I think tomorrow we will be another team and have a lot of bite.”

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