STEGERSBACH, Austria (AP) Austria's team at the European Championship has decried the use of inflammatory, vulgar headlines and quotes directed toward the Germans in an Austrian tabloid.
The co-hosts took offense at the material in the daily Oesterreich on Saturday, two days before the team takes on Germany for a possible place in the quarterfinals.
"We scare the ... out of Germany," Austria forward Martin Harnik was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"They can stick the FIFA rankings ... " team manager Andreas Herzog said, according to the same newspaper.
The Austrian team rejected the quotes and described them as creating "useless animosity."
"We read the headlines, yes, but we are disgusted by them," said defender Martin Stranzl, who spoke on behalf of the team. "We absolutely don't need these papers to get us motivated for the Germany match. Everyone of us is fully aware of what we are up to on Monday."
Austria coach Josef Hickersberger reprimanded Harnik on Friday after Austria drew with Poland for saying that Germany will be feeling the pressure three times as much as his country. The coach asked for respect for the opponent again.
"Germany didn't play well against Croatia, so they will be extremely sharp against us," Hickersberger said Saturday. "I can't remember the last time Germany lost two matches in a row. There's no need to feed either their or our motivation by low remarks."
Hickersberger said he spoke with the striker and his comments won't affect Harnik's chances of playing against Germany.
"I think Martin's got the point now. And he was very focused in training this morning," Hickersberger said Saturday.
Team manager Herzog denied the newspaper quote, but admitted criticizing the ranking system conducted by world's football governing body. Austria is currently 92nd on that list.
"I've once pointed out that these rankings don't reflect each team's strengths properly, but I didn't say that in respect to the Germany match," Herzog told national broadcaster ORF. "We are ranked behind some countries I've hardly ever heard of. The fact that these countries don't play any big opponents doesn't make them better than us."
A previous firestorm erupted at Euro 2008 involving Polish newspapers' inflammatory headlines before the nation's team played Germany.