Soccer-Austria's Alaba role unclear after man-of-the-match performance

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group C - Austria v North Macedonia - National Arena, Bucharest, Romania - June 13, 2021 Austria's David Alaba Pool via REUTERS/Justin Setterfield

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Austrian coach Franco Foda faces a dilemma about where to play regular leftback David Alaba after the captain won the man-of-the-match award for his sparkling performance as a central defender in their Euro 2020 opening win over North Macedonia.

Alaba, who became the first Austrian to get the award at a major tournament, not only delivered as a central defender but he also set up their second goal in the 3-1 win.

The performance earnded Alaba praise from his coach and he also staked a claim for that position when they face Netherlands in their second Group C game on Thursday.

The versatile 28-year-old, who joined Real Madrid after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season, reverted back to his usual leftback/winger role in the second half to drive the game forward.

"It remains to be seen," Alaba said when asked whether he would continue to play as a central defender against the Dutch, who beat Ukraine 3-2 in their opening match.

Foda had wanted Alaba to help launch their game from the defence with more control and stability against the North Macedonians who played with two forwards in Goran Pandev and Aleksandar Trajkovski.

"Our intention was that like that we could launch our game better against two strikers," Foda said.

"That was the reason behind this decision. I was very, very satisfied with him over the entire 90 minutes. He organised the defence, talked with the defenders and also those in front of him."

The Dutch also play with two strikers which could mean that Alaba could be back at the heart of the Austrian three-man backline on Thursday.

"We want to pick up points there as well," said Alaba.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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