Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s International Friendlies clash between Austria and Andorra, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Neither side have qualified for the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar, but both have European Championship qualifiers to prepare for in March 2023.
Indeed, Austria fell short of qualifying for their first World Cup since 1998 after losing 2-1 to Wales in a play-off at the Cardiff City Stadium in March.
Despite only finishing fourth in Group F, their strong performance during the previous UEFA Nations League campaign provided them with another chance of competing on the grandest stage of them all this winter.
The German won his first match in charge with an impressive 3-0 win away to Croatia, but has failed to win any of his ensuing five games in League A of the Nations League, leading to their demotion to League B after a 2-0 defeat to France in September.
Clearly, the 64-year-old is keen to spend more time with his players during the international break, with a winnable friendly against Andorra on Wednesday followed up by a home clash against Italy on Sunday.
Andorra, of course, have never qualified for a major international tournament since gaining affiliation with FIFA and UEFA in 1996.
However, they did manage to beat San Marino home and away during World Cup qualifying, before doing the same to Lietchenstein during the most recent Nations League campaign, suggesting that they have moved a level above the very weakest footballing nations in Europe.
The next step for head coach Koldo Alvarez, who has led the national team since 2010 after earning 78 caps for them during his playing career, is to claim the scalp of a more established nation, but the fact that they are picking up positive results more regularly is a good sign for their development in the coming years.
Should they be able to put in a strong performance against Austria on Wednesday, they will be confident of beating Gibraltar at the weekend ahead of facing Kosovo and Romania in their opening Euro 2024 qualifiers in March.
Austria International Friendlies form:
Austria form (all competitions):
Andorra International Friendlies form:
Andorra form (all competitions):
Rangnick has named a strong squad for their two forthcoming friendlies, with former West Ham United forward Marko Arnautovic hoping to add to his 104 caps and 33 goals at international level.
Joel Guillen, who is the second youngest player in the squad, could make his international debut.
Austria possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Mwene, Posch, Lienhart, Alaba; Seiwald, Schlager, Sabitzer; Baumgartner, Gregoritsch, Arnautovic
Andorra possible starting lineup:
Alvarez; De Pablos, Llovera, Vales, Alavedra, Pomares; Rubio, Vieira, Rebes, Pujol; Fernandez
We say: Austria 3-0 Andorra
Austria should have far too much quality for their opponents on Wednesday, with their players likely to be angry about their lack of involvement at the World Cup.
However, Andorra have undoubtedly improved in recent years, and may not be beaten by the scoreline many might expect.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.