It is just nine days away from the start of EURO 2020 and a summer filled with international soccer. Groups A and B were previously previewed, and Group C is up. The nations involved in this group are Austria, Netherlands, North Macedonia and Ukraine. Here is the EURO 2020: Group C Preview.
The last time Austria won at a major tournament was at the 1990 World Cup where they beat USA 2-1. Austria boss Franco Foda will hope for better success as they were knocked out in the group stage in 2016. They’ll be helped by the fact they defeated North Macedonia, who is also in their group, twice during qualifying.
Austria will deploy world-class midfielder David Alaba in a central role in the midfield, as they have for most of his international career. Marcel Sabitzer will provide a creative playmaking ability in an advanced role, feeding balls to Marko Arnautovic who can still terrorize backlines. Their defense will have to be strong, as they have shown their vulnerability during World Cup qualifying.
Prediction: Round of 16
The Dutch missed out on the 2016 EUROs and the 2018 World Cup and will hope to make up for lost time this summer. After taking them to the Nations League final and qualifying for this tournament, Ronald Koeman left for Barcelona and Frank de Boer took over and had a tough start in World Cup qualifying, but has steadied the ship since a 4-2 loss to Turkey.
Ajax has provided the Netherlands with a great pairing in defense and midfield between Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, respectively. Georginio Wijnaldum provides a veteran presence in the midfield and recently signed for Barcelona. Memphis Depay will bring his pace and goal-scoring ability to the front. Missing big man Virgil Van Dijk is a huge problem for the Dutch and was exploited by Turkey. The future looks bright for this generation of Dutch players.
North Macedonia’s third place was their highest finish in any of the 13 qualifying groups they have contested since independence (though their play-off spot came via the UEFA Nations League). They created international headlines in March by handing Germany their first World Cup qualifying defeat since 2001. Only Poland kept a clean sheet against this side in qualifying, so the goals are there.
Midfielders Elif Elmas and Enis Bardhi provide a creative one-two tandem in the center of the midfield. Leeds United Ezgjan Alioski will run up and down the left wing all game providing attack and defense. 2010 Champions League winner Goran Pandev has the nation goal-scoring record and will need to build on that to help his side. Their defense will be the biggest question mark and will be quite busy this summer.
Prediction: Group Stage Exit
Ukraine won their group without losing and won promotion to Nations League A in their first campaign before getting relegated. 2003 UEFA Champions League and 2004 Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko will hope to build on these results and a draw against France in World Cup qualifying.
Ukraine’s strength lies in their defense, only conceding four in all of their qualifying matches. Their U-20 side won the 2019 World Cup, and many of these players are graduating to the first team. Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko is strong on the left and Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi is another key presence in the midfield. The attack will be the biggest problem, as Andriy Yarmolenko has been in the reserves at West Ham United and Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk looks likely to lead the line.
Prediction: Round of 16
June 13, 12pm EST Austria vs North Macedonia (Bucharest)
June 13, 3pm EST Netherlands vs Ukraine (Amsterdam)
June 17, 9am EST Ukraine vs North Macedonia (Bucharest)
June 17, 3pm EST Netherlands vs Austria (Amsterdam)
June 21, 12pm EST Netherlands vs North Macedonia (Amsterdam)
June 21, 12pm EST Austria vs Ukraine (Bucharest)