[tps_header]PREVIEW: France v. Austria[/tps_header]
[tps_title]INTRODUCTION[/tps_title]I am not a journalist, but since I am French and now living in Austria for a few years, and have coached in both countries, I will give it a try!
Even if I coached on Team France during last European Championships in 2010, I probably know Team Austria a lot better than Team France. Team France has many new guys since the last World and European Championships and I don´t know many of them, especially on defense. So here is my little preview, it is of course just my opinion!
#8 Christopher Gross for Austria seems to not be the same since he came back from an injury a few weeks ago. He had a rough time in 2011 World Championship against France. However, he has been playing amazingly the past two seasons for the Vienna Vikings. It is now or never for him to prove he can lead Austria to a championship!
Edge : Austria (it is time for redemption for Gross)
#27 Andreas Hofbauer is probably the fastest player in Europe, a big play guy, almost impossible to catch if he has daylight.
Edge : France (more depth at the position)
Austrian wide receivers might not appear as impressive but it is a really solid group. Smart guys, polished route runners, tough blockers. They might not be flashy but they will do the job. Watch out for the Austrian Megatron #13 Haider and the speedy #6 Walch.
Edge : France (too many playmakers)
[tps_title]OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE LINE[/tps_title]
Edge : Austria (more experience)
I was very impressed with the French defensive line against Denmark but the horrible injury of their star defensive end Nanguy is a big loss for Team France. The Austrian defensive line doesn’t have a lot of size but lot of experience with three Vienna Vikings leading the way. Watch out for veterans #56 Taheri and #94 Grünsteidl.
Edge : Austria (more experience)
This group is very impressive for Team Austria. Lot of talent, lot of speed. Watch out for blitzes from the outside from #49 Blach and #41 Illetschko to stop the run inside.
Just like for the defensive line, I don’t know the French linebackers very well. #32 Berton is a beast. #5 Zuppardi and #52 Noir are veterans. Good overall group but they will have their hands full to stop the Austrian running game.
Edge : Austria (just more talent)
Probably the weakness of both defenses! Very young group on both sides. Not a lot of size at the cornerback position. They will need to find solutions to counter size match-ups versus #13 Haider (Austria) and #8 Dablé (France). Team France defensive backs are lead by the French Polamalu #3 Vidaller and watch out the speedy #4 Bubik for Team Austria.
Edge : Pick’em
Kickoff for France equals a touchback with their strong kicker #10 Bede. It looks like Austria should not kick the ball to #11 Rioux.
Edge: France (more speed and great kicker)
Great staff on both sides. Mainly nationals, with one American on Team France and two on Team Austria. France has the same staff for many years, Larry Legault has been the Head Coach since 2004. Austria has the same staff who won the last two Junior European Championships. You will not find a better defensive staff in Europe than the Austrian one.
Edge: Austria (because of their Defensive staff)
Everybody says that France is the big favorite of the tournament but the game is played in Austria! Even if the game is played during the week, around 5,000 Austrian fans should come to the game in Graz to rout for their team. But France has been in that position before, with a big win against Austria in the same stadium during the 2011 World Championships! It was a big disappointment for Austria and they will look for sure for revenge. Can Team France manage the expectations ? Can Austria finally win a big game in Senior tournament ?
Edge : Austria (home field advantage is always huge)
Let´s be honest, France has more talent than Austria. But the home field advantage and coaching could make the difference for Austria. France has so many playmakers on offense. They can pass and run effectively. But look for the Austrian coaches to come up with a great game plan to limit them. The key will be to put pressure on the French QB and limit the big plays of the speedy French players with great tackling in space. France play a safe defense, they play zone most of the time with 2 safeties high, keep the play in front of them and don’t blitz too much. So Austria will have to run the ball to win the game, keep the French offense off the field and take some shots deep with play actions. This should be an exciting game to watch and it might end up in a high scoring game.