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1930s: England vs. Austria

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-03-27 18:51:24

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
In the battle for sovereignty in European football, two nations stood out from other football forces; England, which was recovering after a lower period in the 1920s; Austria, which reached their peak with Wunderteam, more precisely in 1931. Which one was the best National Team? Which one had more regularity? Has Austrian football really reached or surpassed the level of English football? Well, these were issues that divided the former football audience. Characteristics.
First, it is good to mention the specifications of each territory, because for many, football was completely different from each other.
The English were far from playing the same cerebral and technical football as before the World War I. Their play-style was based on kick and rush with a series of easy-to-assign patterns. Among other characteristics of English football were physical, athletic, psychological play and a technique aimed precisely at the shooting science. The English, moreover, did not give up any move, as they had a lot of vigour and determination in each situation. Their game was strong, fast and with few long passes they reached the opponent's goal. They were the main representatives of result football. Therefore, their style of play was far from flashy. Tactically speaking, their main style was the 'W'-formation with the centre-half acting as a stopper — WM.
The Austrians, on the other hand, played English football, too, but pre-World War I. English football, with the exceptions it was a little faster and more refined. The Austrian game was based on art, cerebral play and a wide technical and tactical repertoire. It was hard to spot patterns in their game, as their arsenal of ideas and qualities was quite broad. However, athletically, physically and psychologically the Austrians were not renowned. Austria didn't have as much speed and perseverance in the play. In addition, even though their technical quality was comparable to that of the English, of the aspects attributed to technique, the science of shooting — as in the whole of Central Europe — was much inferior to that of the English. Tactically speaking, yes; the Austrians attributed their game to much more advanced ideas. The perspectives.
Each look has a different perception of things, therefore the same is applicable to football. What is better? Win the match? Play beautiful? These were some interesting discussions throughout the 1930s. For many, playing better was winning, no matter how flashy their football wasn't; for others, playing better was playing a game that was more pleasing to the eyes, richer and more elegant, but without completely neglecting the score.
Given those two main definitions above, both were the two main thoughts of the footballing public. Hence, there were several Austrian names who said that the English played better, while the same was also applicable for the English side. For example, Rudi Hiden and Hugo Meisl said that England played better in the 4:3 result. On the other hand, some English names said that Austria played better. It's all a matter of perception of the thing, even more if applied to the time — without anachronism, of course.
In that match, as much as the Austrians had, in fact, a more showy, elegant, rich and authentic football, they sinned in the shooting, which was much inferior to the precise and powerful shots of the English. Furthermore, they did not have the same vigour, speed, dynamism, physical preparation and determination that the British had. In other words, the Austrians were ball artists. Overall.
In terms of regularity, Wunderteam didn't last long. Austria reached its peak in 1931, according to Hugo Meisl himself and a reflection of the performance of his teams. In 1932, the Wunderteam was no longer the shadow of football that it had shown in the previous year, and therefore, its performance was gradually mitigated, even though they won a victory against the English in 1936, in Vienna. England, on the other hand, maintained greater regularity at a high level, which Austria did not achieve.
In conclusion, Austria, in some ways, reached the level of English football in 1931 — and that was something that was completely accepted by authorities and specialists. However, as the years went by, the main authorities and experts in Central Europe themselves claimed that Austria — like all of Central Europe — was no longer on the same level as English football, but a little below. What If?
What if England had faced Austria on neutral ground? Well, according to Hugo Meisl himself, Austria would have a chance to win the match, yes. Following the point of view of the author of this article, I tend to agree with Meisl, but I would still bet my money on a victory for England. However, this same author would prefer to see Austria play than the English team on another occasion against some other National Team.