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Award for Marcel Sabitzer: "That is one of the best that you can achieve as a player"

No David Alaba, no Marko Arnautovic - in the absence of the two top stars, Marcel Sabitzer is also required to play a leading role in the Austrian national soccer team. The 26-year-old has had an extremely strong season with RB Leipzig and was elected captain of the Champions League semi-finalists. He sees the upcoming Nations League primarily as an opportunity to prepare for 2021.

Sabitzer entered the ÖFB camp with high dignity. For the first time he was voted into the "Team of the Season" of the Champions League. "That is one of the best that you can achieve as a player," said the Styrian on Tuesday at a media meeting in Klagenfurt. "It reflects the performance. That's why these are very nice and eventful moments. Of course I'm happy, but I want to continue there."

The fact that the eyes of the ÖFB team will now also be more focused on him is of little concern to Sabitzer. Rather, it is the goals that are pending. The eight international matches in autumn should be used in order to be ready for World Cup qualification and the European Championship in 2021. "It doesn't break a leg if you try something and it doesn't work," said the midfielder.

Due to the numerous failures, new players could also present themselves in the Nations League games on Friday in Norway and on Monday in Klagenfurt against Romania. "Then you can get an idea of ​​what they are capable of doing at this level." Sabitzer has already proven it. In the last European Championship qualification, he scored two goals and five assists in nine games.

"We have to prepare well as a team so that we will be able to play a good tournament next year," emphasized the Graz native. At the same time, they are also trying to achieve good results in the Nations League. "We don't want to relegate now, of course. If you lose a game, you'll learn from it. But of course we want to win every game."

Sabitzer: "You have little time to try something, you don't have that"

The situation in the coming year is new if only important World Cup qualifying games are pending due to the Corona postponements before the EM. "It has no experience with it. You have little time to try something, you don't have that," said Sabitzer. Then there is the burden on the players. "We all have a really tough season ahead of us in the clubs. That's why it will be interesting to see how many grains you still have in your tank in June."

Already this summer the break was extremely short. There was a week for the Leipzig players after the semi-finals in the Champions League vacation. 17 days after the 3-0 win against Paris Saint-Germain, Sabitzer is back on the pitch in Oslo. "You have to keep the circumstances in mind if things don't go well," said the 42-time international (7 goals). "You have to make the best of it. I am motivated to have another good season. That is my focus."

In Leipzig, Sabitzer acts almost exclusively in the central, often defensive midfield. In the ÖFB team, he also liked a more offensive role. "I see myself in the center, not somewhere on the wing," said Austria's footballer of the year 2017. Whether six, eight or ten makes no difference to him. "I'll talk to the coach about his ideas and then we'll see if we can come up with a common denominator."

Team boss Franco Foda is also looking for attacking wingers for the first international matches of the year. With Alaba, Valentino Lazaro, Florian Kainz, Alessandro Schöpf and Konrad Laimer, who has also already held this position in the ÖFB team, several high-profile options are missing. Sabitzer is hoping for new strengths, but is also confident for 2021: "With the team, if everyone is fit, I am optimistic that we can play a good European championship." Better than in 2016, when he was also part of the early retirement in France.