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Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-03-05 22:43:29
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Austria's football, in the 20s, constantly increased its level as the years passed. Due to the references of Kálmán Konrád, Jeno Konrád & Alfréd Schaffer, the Vienna school was born; the dawn of a era began. The new players were molded to reflect the variation of the Scottish style. As early as 1930, Austria demonstrated its might, through the S.K. Rapid, winning the Central European Cup tournament. S.K. Rapid, who had been fighting for the title since the beginning of the tournament, won the first great Austrian success. That same year, Austria drew with England, but there were two defeats against their main rival, Hungary, which had acquired more strength than in recent years.
Indeed, the Wiener Schule flourished artists of the highest order, exceptional coaches with a far more offensive mentality than coaches of other nations and a scientifically played football that was based on the Scottish school. However, for some, including the Austrian milieu itself, this would not be enough to overcome the Latin school and the English, which, in turn, in terms of goals, were much more efficient than Central Europe.
The football played in Austria was very different football from the one played in Argentina, for instance, and much more different than the football played in England.
The style of play, following, of course, the Wiener Schule, was more cerebral, artistic and not just result-oriented. Austrian football was technical, but more tactically oriented than anything else. It was very different from the style of football that was played in England. The matches played on Austrian soil were more eye-catching to the public, much less dynamic and with much wider scores than in Italy. Based on the principle that the best defense is offense, Austrian results were almost always wide, even though Austria had great half-backs, defenders and goalkeepers throughout the 1930s. It is worth mentioning, however, that there were teams that they had some of the best defensive systems in all of Europe. This is the case with First Vienna, which several times finished Wiener I. as the team that conceded the fewest goals.
Furthermore, in terms of systems and other tactics, the Austrian teams and even the National Team adhered to the ideas of other nations, mainly offensive tactics, however much the old system was priority. Some teams — S.K. Rapid and First Vienna, for example — used the W-formation on a few occasions, although it was not a very well-regarded tactic for the Viennese public, as it was a more defensive tactic than the old five-forward line.
Players were more tactical than in other territories. For instance, an English winger, for the most part, would run to the bottom line to cross a ball, even without knowing if he would have any forwards in the area. In Austria, on the other hand, wingers had other functions and were much more cerebral; they constantly stopped to consider whether this was the best move to make.
The domestic competitions were not just performances of the artistic tricks of the main players, but they were fiercely contested competitions. For example, throughout the 1930s, Wiener I. Liga had four winners in very close contests. The Wiener Cup, in turn, which was another competition that qualified for the Mitropa Cup, there was also a good variation of champions, mainly finalists.
Wiener Schule evolves.
As much as the basis of the Austrian game was a game of short, flat, accurate and punctual passes, some evolutions in the Wiener Schule, as Robert Lang himself said, were noticed by the spectator. Football became more objective, so that flashy game was already more isolated, but merged with goal-football. Furthermore, other methods such as the long pass were increasingly being implemented on Viennese soil. It is even mentioned by Hugo Meisl that football would eventually have to evolve so that the forces of Central Europe could achieve good results abroad.
Due to the constant development carried out in the 1920s, Austria was gradually climbing the ladder of world football. With the draw in Vienna in 1930 against England, many believed that Austria had reached the top or nearly the top of Continental football. However, the results that followed were not convincing. Until it reached a point of great pressure for Hugo Meisl through journalists and Austrian football fans. Due to the last failures, some of the said artists were left aside and Meisl opted for a straighter, more incisive, but lackluster football. One of the key players that Meisl himself sidelined was Matthias Sindelar, the centre-forward of F.K. Austria.
A failure that was marked in history and that was an important fact for the whole development of the chronicle, was when Vienna was massacred by South Germany, in Nuremberg, at the beginning of 1929. On that occasion, due to the snow, the pass and Austrians' artistic game has failed. The match ended 5:0 for South Germany, so Hugo Meisl decided to change the mindset of the Austrian team a little. With that, Matthias Sindelar, who played, as a right insider, alongside Friedrich Gschweidl, ended up being one of those who lost space in Hugo Meisl's selection. Many commented that there was no way this duo could work.
Already in the second half of the 1920s, the young Matthias Sindelar was already seen as one of the best centre-forwards in Central Europe. His playing style reflected what the majority of the Viennese audience liked to watch, so he ended up becoming very popular and well liked by the National Team. Over the years, Sindelar refined his knowledge more and more until he reached a point where leaving him out of the teams would be going against the inherent principles of Wiener Schule. The Austrians had a G. O. Smith to watch.
Sindelar peaked in the first half of the 1930s, initially in 1931. He had already been snubbed by Hugo Meisl due to the Nuremberg event, but returned in 1930 for a match against Czechoslovakia. However, his performance was not enough to show his footballing growth. Until 05/16/1931, when the scenario of Sindelar and all of Austrian football changed.
The Wunderteam was born.
Through pressure, Hugo Meisl, who was hesitant in lineups given by the Viennese public, joined an old offensive formation that had Sindelar as centre-forward and Gschweidl as right insider. On that occasion, Meisl believed that both could not play alone. However, in 1931, according to a growing performance among the main Austrian players, Hugo Meisl called up the team that would be marked worldwide as the Wunderteam, a team that had the main representatives of the Wiener Schule, according to Meisl himself.
As widely accepted and thought of as the main representative of the Vienna school, there were still many hesitant people. Frigyes Becske, one of the greatest experts in Austrian football, had warned about the poor shooting quality of the Austrian attackers. Becske wrote:
Meisl exhibits a team of football artists against Scotland. There are five players in the forward line, but if the Scots accidentally realize that only Schall can shoot from the five forwards — there will be a big problem with the goals... But the more 'school' the more more technical readiness.
The half line — the half line played against the Hungarians. The two sides are on a general basis of trust, and Smistik is always reliable.
The setting of the two defenses was a natural consequence of the great game against the Hungarians.
In Vienna, news of the line-up ran in a matter of minutes and the audience welcomed the team with fervent applause. After all, Meisl's great reflections finally picked the audience: He put all of their favorites together...
The selection enchanted Europe with erudite football and high performances. As much as the shot was criticized, the number of chances created were so high that several goals were scored. Even so, visibly speaking, according to public opinion, what was most pleasing was the spectacle, the stage where the most diverse technical tricks and tactical geniuses of the Viennese team were presented.
Its end is not exactly accurate, as experts have different opinions on when the show actually ended. Some players even differ in these opinions. The peak, on the other hand, was very clear. According to Hugo Meisl himself, the Wunderteam peaked in 1931.
The young Josef Bican.
Of the main events that emerged in 1930 came the young Josef Bican, who in his first match was widely compared to Sindelar. Bican was a 17-year-old young man, thin, very well built and tall. He had an impressive and vast technical repertoire, but he had a characteristic far above Sindelar: shooting. Although Bican was also a strategist and had refined quality, Bican main charactheristic was that he was a top athlete; he always stood out as first or one of the first in the National Team's performance tests.
Bican was a young promise and even mentioned by Hugo Meisl as the successor of Matthias Sindelar. Furthermore, Meisl, who always saw Bican with nicer eyes than Sindi, said that Bican would be even better than Sindelar. Bican, in fact, was the hope in the centre-forward position. At the time, experts and supporters said that Bican would make an exceptional pairing with Josef Stroh of F.K. Austria Wien, disciple of Sindelar.
Over the years, Bican stood out more and more, as his development was very fast, even with such a young age. For some, as early as 1934, Bican was considered by many the best Austrian centre-forward, the one who mastered all the possible characteristics that such a position required. In the second half of the decade, Bican assumed a level considered superklassisz. According to experts, he was already better than Sindelar and had traits that, if he continued with that development, would surpass all the centre-forwards of the past.
With dominance both through the National Team and through the club level, Austrian football has reached the pinnacle of its performance. Clubs filled with artists, football geniuses who made even the foreign public admire them. Through their performances, Austria reached the top shelf of world football, being able, in such a way, even to rival the English.
However, after the peak period reached in 1931/1933 — precisely 1931 — Austria no longer found itself in the same condition, because its style, however precisely elegant, was no longer reflected in the scoreboards. After 1934, the Austrian team was unable to obtain great results against teams from the Central European bloc and was no longer beating its main historical rival: the Hungarian team. They, moreover, due to the age of the main aces like Matthias Sindelar and Friedrich Gschweidl, lost a lot of creative power. Players like Josef Smistik and Leopold Hofmann no longer belonged at the same level as before, apart from the loss of Rudolf Hiden to French football. Hiden, at that time, was one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The second half of the 30's was marked by performances below. The selection had practically already been reformed by a new generation, but without the same caliber of previous stars. Austria, however, still managed to beat the England team, which was the main comparable match in the world. Also, there weren't any big accomplishments from the team for the rest of the decade, largely on account of Anschluss, either.
In 1938, more precisely in March, Austrian football ended the entire decade. Due to Anchluss, OFB was abolished and professionalism on Austrian soil ended. Austria was annexed to Germany, therefore its participation in III. World Cup has been canceled. Judenklubs, as is the case with F.K. Austria, lost players due to the Nazi regime, the selection was disbanded and the Austrian championship was inserted in the Gauligas model. Even so, the Austrian teams managed to stand out in the new models, whether reaching far in the German championship or even, as is the case of the S.K. Rapid, beat the Tschammer Pokal.
(Teams are not ranked)
As much as all the teams were made up of exceptional names that could be part of the selection during the 1930s, I highlight four teams that carved their names not only on national soil, but throughout the continental soil. These are First Vienna, F.K. Austria, S.K. Rapid & W.S.C Admira.
IFirst Vienna, the blue and yellow team that became known as one of Austria's main powers and that best reflected the Wiener Schule. Especially in the first half of the 1930s, they were a very powerful team, both defensively and offensively. Led offensively by Fritz Gschweidl, the offensive line was enhanced on both art and effectiveness scales. However, the defensive system formed by Rainer, Blum, Kaller, Hofmann and Machu was the team's main weapon. Subsequently, Schmaus made an excellent defensive duo with Karl Rainer. Throughout the decade, First Vienna were known for having one of the best defenses on the continent and almost always finishing Wiener I. as the best defense in the league.
Their main phase was clearly in the first half of the decade, more precisely in the first years. The defensive system was still pretty solid, in addition to having players who reached a high level in their respective careers. Furthermore, the main titles won are in the first half of the decade, with the exception of the Österreich Pokal 1936/37. In the 1930/31 season, First Vienna won the two main titles they could play for.
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IIW.S.C Admira, a team of a different style but accepted and quite effective. The Admira's hallmark was its fast, incisive, non-refining game. His offensive actions did not have an artistic characteristic, but his base, even so, was a game of accurate, fast passes and mainly through the ground. His playstyle was dynamic and largely accurate. The reflection of this is the large amount of goals that the team scored, in addition to the fact that their style can be very well reflected in their national achievements. However, his matches on foreign soil were no longer as impressive as on Viennese soil; causing in a way an underestimation. Admira in domestic competitions is one; Admires in Mitteleuropa Pokal and even in friendly matches is another.
The team's main sector was its offensive line, where it had high caliber players throughout the 30s, such as Anton Schall, Karl Stoiber, the Vogl brothers, Josef Bican and Wilhelm Hahnemann.
Of the titles won, all are of national level. As already mentioned above, Admira failed miserably to present, on foreign soil, the same football that they had on Viennese soil. In total they won five Wiener I. titles and two Wiener Cups, with an emphasis on the 1933/34 final in which Admira beat S.K. Rapid for an extraordinary 8:0 result.
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IIIF.K. Austria, a completely restructured team that achieved another great phase. The turn of the decades was not very interesting for Dr. Schwarz's team. Die Violetten, however, as the seasons passed, reached high levels in world football. This team could not be judged on their results in national competitions, as they have always been more prepared for international confrontations. So much so that the F.K. Austria was regarded as a "Cup team", as well as having its best league result as a second place in the Wiener I. 1936/37. Led by big names such as Matthias Sindelar, Walter Nausch, Josef Stroh, Karl 'Sesta' and so many other exceptional players, the team had one of the most striking, transient, showy and imaginative styles of Wiener Schule.
With an offensive line commanded by the genius Sindi, their game flourished as one of the top teams loyal to Wiener Schule. It was one of the nicest teams to look at, and not just for Sindelar, but for the whole team. Furthermore, it was the team that most stood out internationally; touring, mainly on English soil, or standing out in the Mitropa Cup, even though his first appearance was in 1933.
Die Violetten didn't win league titles, but they did win three Wiener Cups — which in some ways was a faster and less arduous path to the Mitropa Cup — and two Mitropa Cups — the 1933 & 1936 editions.
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IVS.K. Rapid, the green and white team that was perhaps the most popular of all in Vienna. The S.K. Rapid was a team that transitioned between styles during the 1930s. Their fans follow all their battles and never leave the Hütteldorf team. His coach and former player Eduard Bauer has climbed teams that have won a range of national and international titles. By the end of the first half of the decade, Rapid had become a more scientific, more elegant and showy style team in the public eye. It was no longer the old style of S.K. Rapid. In addition, as much as the other teams played in 'W', too, Rapid was marked by this formation and its scientific style.
With impressive power in all sectors of the field, S.K. Rapid, in fact, was one of the top teams to be feared. From Platzer to Bican, each line reflected a footballing high class, thus sending lots of players for the National Team during the whole decade. Josef Smistik, for instance, was one of the main centre-halves of the decade. Franz Wagner was a player of refined talent, elegant, advanced tactical perception and impressive passing quality. Perhaps, Wagner was the main passer for the Austrians in the 1930s. Josef Bican was an extraordinary centre-forward, with his main qualities being his speed — considered the fastest Austrian of the period — and with his technical and tactical knowledge unmatched, even at such a young age. Franz Binder was a tank-style inside left with a cannon on his feet, just like Géza Toldi. When Binder infiltrated towards the opposing goal, the defenses could not stop him. His shooting, in conclusion, was among the strongest in all of Europe. However, it is worth mentioning that Binder's style was that of a more cerebral player, a true reader of the plays and an accurate and vastly strong finisher.
Among the titles that Rapid have won are three Wiener I., a Mitropa Cup and a Tschammer Pokal. There has been a variation of titles in the appearance of this team. However, many expected more from S.K. Rapid in the Mitropa Cup, as his performances were considered below what the team could actually demonstrate.
The fruits of the merger between the former Wiener Schule and the MTK-iskola were mostly seen in the 1930s. With a string of spectacular and very similar players in each position, Austria has flourished and delivered unique performances in each club and national match. Among so many extraordinary players, unfortunately, only a few will stand out.
Friedrich Gschweidl, of all the players who had the possible ways and methods to achieve an objective that solves the situation, perhaps, this was the greatest strategist. Gschweidl was a genius, an exceptional player able to hide his true actions from the most astute defender. Gschweidl was smart, he knew when to make the chess-like move. As tall as he was and, in some ways, even strong, he used almost exclusively his advanced technique and tactical perception. Before Matthias Sindelar stabilized himself as the team's centre-forward, Gschweidl led the Austrian National Team as a centre-forward for many years.
From far away you've already noticed his distinctive style, a skinny player, very skinny, looking like a bird of prey. And if you stare him in the eye for a few seconds, he's able to dodge in shame. He was a shy, modest player who liked to spend his time playing chess and going to the cinema. His fame would permeate Vienna the way water runs along the Danube. On the pitch he was a very different player, with a very technical and unique style. His game was focused on offensive strategy. His intelligence was sublime, always with a few and simple moves he solved a situation that only geniuses could see the way out of. This Matthias Sindelar, who was rapidly losing hair, was without a doubt Austria's main footballer. And not just in the 1930s, but of all-time.
Team of the decade:
Vogl. I Sindelar Zischek
Nausch Smistik Wagner
Author's best XI.
From the half-back line, particularly the wing half-backs, there was no better player than Walter Nausch, the captain of the Wunderteam. Nausch was a complete gentleman, spoke several languages and was an incredibly polite and genuine person. Nausch's game reflects his personality. Nausch was tall and very strong, but he was not adept at the physical game — like Dr. Sárosi. Nausch used his refined technique and tactical sense to overcome his main opponents. He, moreover, had a very high tactical versatility, being able to play defensive, half-back and even in forward line positions. He was a spectacular player and was one of the main banners for both Wunderteam and F.K. Austria. Pride has the fan who has a captain like Walter Nausch on his team.
Of the great goalkeepers that Austria has produced, none has the level, the caliber of Rudi Hiden, the Wunderteam goalkeeper who later went on to play in French football. Hiden was an artistic goalkeeper, with inimitable acrobatics, but sometimes he went too far. His reaction time is far above average and his confidence is reflected even in his teammates. Alongside Czech František Plánička, Rudi Hiden was the best goalkeeper of the 1930s. He was a truly spectacular goalkeeper.