Euro 2020 team profile: Group C – Austria and North Macedonia
Head coach: Franco Foda (German)
Captain: Julian Baumgartlinger
Most capped player: Andi Herzog (103)
Top scorer: Toni Polster (44)
FIFA ranking: 23
European Championship appearances: 3 (first in 2008 as co-hosts)
Best run: Group stage in 2008 and 2016
Group rivals: Netherlands, Ukraine, and North Macedonia
Key players: Marko Arnautović, David Alaba, Julian Baumgartlinger, Aleksandar Dragović, Martin Hinteregger, Marcel Sabitzer, Christoph Baumgartner.
Status: Winless in any major finals since 1990, Austria are up against it in group C as they have to contend with group favorites Netherlands and Ukraine, and debutants North Macedonia for a chance to go through to the next round.
Can qualifying rounds’ top scorer Marko Arnautović lead them to the knockout stages for the first time?
Austria have only formerly played in Euros twice, co-hosting in 2008 and qualifying in 2016. On both occasions, they’ve been bundled out in the group stages. What they would pay to go a step better this year though!
Verdict: Expect them to finish in third place in Group C.
Head coach: Igor Angelovski (Macedonian)
Captain: Goran Pandev
Most capped player: Goran Pandev (117)
Top scorer: Goran Pandev (37)
FIFA ranking: 62
European Championship appearances: 2020 is their first appearance
Best run: TBD
Group rivals: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria.
Key players: Goran Pandev, Ezgjan Alioski, Elif Elmas, Aleksandar Trajkovski.
Status: It’s a fairytale of football for North Macedonia this year. This year saw the Eastern European nation record a shock-away draw against Italy, home wins against Serbia, Croatia, and most impressively, a shock-away win against Germany.
This year also saw them qualify for a major tournament for the very time since their independence from Yugoslavia when they made it to this year’s European championship.
All thanks to their performance in the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League. North Macedonia finished in third place in their qualifying group, their highest finish in any of the 13 qualifying groups they have contested since independence, although they got their playoff spot through their Nations League results.
Verdict: They have already overachieved by reaching the finals. Expect their journey to end in the group stages.