AGONA Profile: Liechtenstein, The minnows of the group
Following the draw for Euro 2020 qualifying, the AGONA profile takes a closer look at Liechtenstein, the minnows of the Ethniki’s Group J.
Liechtenstein are a relatively new addition to FIFA and participated in their first qualifying campaign for EURO 1996. They were able to snatch their first ever competitive win in October of 1998, where they defeated Azerbaijan 2:1 in a Euro 2000 qualifying match. However, since then, they have struggled to make an impact on the international football scene.
Liechtenstein recorded their best qualifying campaign during the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where they racked up eight points and recorded two victories over Luxembourg.
In the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Liechtenstein were placed in Group 4 of League D. They finished in last place behind FYROM, Armenia, Gibraltar, recording one win (v GIB), one draw (v ARM), and four losses.
Nickname: The Blues-Reds
First International Fixture: Liechtenstein - Malta 1:1 (14 June 1981)
Current FIFA Ranking: 181
Head Coach: Rene Pauritsch
Captain: Michele Polverino
Stadium: Rheinpark Stadion (capacity 7,584)
Participations in Major Tournaments: zero
54-year-old Rene Pauritsch has been the manager of the Liechtenstein National Football Team since 2013. The Austrian also played football in the lower tiers in Austrian football for 13 years. Eight years after his retirement as a player, Pauritsch decided to head down the coaching path, picking up his first ever coaching role at Austrian side AKA Vorarlberg. Later that year, he made the switch to another Austrian club SC Austria Lustenau where he stayed for 2 seasons.
In 2008, Pauritsch was appointed as head coach of the Liechtenstein Under 21 side where he spent four years in the role, before being promoted to the senior national team in 2013. He has done his best considering the difficult position he finds himself in, having coached the senior team in 49 matches only managing 4 wins, 7 draws, and 38 losses.
Liechtenstein’s captain, 34-year-old Michele Polverino, remains a key player to the team despite being in the later stages of his career. Polverino is a midfielder and has managed to represent his country on 71 occasions, having scored 6 goals throughout his international career thus far. He plays his club football with FC Blazers in his home country.
Marcel Buchel remains another key player for the Liechtenstein national team. Born in Austria, he represented Austria at the U19 level before making the switch to play for Liechtenstein at the senior level. The 27-year-old midfielder is one of the most talented players amongst the Liechtenstein national team set up, having played the last four years at Italian clubs Bologna, Empoli, and Hellas Verona.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS WITH GREECE
Liechtenstein have faced Greece on three occasions, with Greece having won all three matches. The pair’s first meeting was an international friendly during Greece’s preparations for the EURO 2004 tournament, where the Ethniki shocked the world to go on to win the competition. On that occasion, Greece prevailed with a 0:2 victory as Zisis Vryzas and Angelos Charisteas got on the scoresheet.
Their next meeting came in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where the Greeks claimed a narrow 0:1 victory with Kostas Mitroglou scoring the winner in the second half.
In that same qualifying campaign, Greece hosted Liechtenstein in the reverse fixture and went on to win 2:0 at the Karaiskakis stadium thanks to goals from Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Karagounis.