LIVESTREAM: 2018 IFAF European Championships Gold Medal Game – Austria v. France – August 4, 7p EEST (6p CEST, 12p EST)

The 2018 IFAF European Championships will culminate Saturday, August 4 with the gold medal final between Team Austria (2-0) and Team France (2-0), in Vantaa, Finland.

To reach the final, Austria defeated both Team Sweden and Team Denmark. The Austrians defeated Denmark 40-15 on the opening day of the tournament and then handled Sweden, beating them 41-3 to close out the group stage.

Team France, playing in the other group along with Great Britain and the host country, Finland, downed Great Britain in their first game 42-9 and then defeated a tough Team Finland 21-14.

In 2014, Austria won the silver medal in the European Championships and France the bronze. In that tournament, the teams played in the same group, and Team Austria defeated France 28–9 in front of a crowd of 10,000 cheering fans. This time, last year’s World Games Winners Team France, are more than ready for the challenge.

Team France have relied on their strengths to reach the final. In two games they have scored 63 points and given up only 23. They ran over Great Britain and were able to win a tight game against Finland. The French defense has also played well.

Team Austria has been as convincing as expected. They had some troubles against the Danes early on but showed their power against the Swedes. Their points differential after two games is impressive: +63.

Three key match-ups

Quarterbacks

Alexandre Thury vs Paul Durand

Team Austria’s starting quarterback Alexander Thury, has been impressive. In the tournament’s two games, his quick feet and accurate throwing arm have both been on display. He has completed 28 of 37 passes (75%)  for 317 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 81 yards and another. Although backup Ruben Seeber finished the game off against Sweden with Thury apparently resting a sore hamstring he will be dangerous in this game.

Team France QB Paul Durand has thrown 508 yards and six touchdowns in two games and continues to impress with  his presence in the pocket. Time and again against Finland he was under huge pressure and still managed to complete his passes.  Durand, a two-time French championship-winning quarterback, said that the game against Team Finland was the toughest he has ever played but he still was a key to France’s victory.

Team France RB Stephen Ypmo Photo: Jari Turunen

Running backs

Sandro Platzgummer vs Stephen Yepmo

Austria’s starting running back Sandro Platzgummer is only 21 years old but has already gained a reputation as one of the best running backs in Europe. The Swarco Raiders Tirol tailback has scored five touchdowns in two games. His value is not just as a running back though but as a kick returner as well.  Against Sweden he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and he returned the opening kickoff 63 yards for very good field position.

Sandro Platzgummer has shown why he is considered as one of the best running backs in Europe. Photo: Samppa Toivonen

Team France’s veteran starting running back, Stephen Yepmo, is only 5’8″ but his 210 lbs make him difficult to bring down. Against Team Finland, Yepmo carried the ball 24 times and gained 87 yards while he rushed for 115 and a touchdown against Great Britain. He scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against Finland to send France to the final.

Special teams

Good special teams play is a key and both Austria and France have excelled in this tournament so far.  Both teams have returned the ball extremely well and gained good field positions for their offenses to start their drives. Against Team Sweden, the Austrians returned the ball well into Swedish territory giving Thury and the offense great field position.

Team France’s Amir Kilani and Cheikhou Sow have combined for over 200 yards on punt and kick-off returns.  This has been a tribute to the blocking of the return teams and in the final, this could be a crucial factor in the game.

The two head coaches today, France’s Patrick Esume and Shuan Fatah of Team Austria, are no strangers to each other. The pair coached together in NFL Europe, helping the Hamburg Sea Devils win the World Bowl in 2007. Esume was offensive coordinator while Fatah was the running backs coach. The last time they faced each other as head coaches was in the 2010 German Bowl when Esume’s Kiel Baltic Hurricanes defeated the Berlin Adler coached by Fatah, 17-10.

Watch the IFAF European Championship gold medal game live presented by American Football International in partnership with Mobile-TV and YareTV. The stream is geo-blocked in Austria and Germany, but available on-line to the rest of our worldwide audience.

2018 IFAF European Championships: Team Austria v. Team France, August 4, 7p (6p CEST, 12 Noon EST)

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