Euro 2020: Group C Preview

After a delay of one year due the Coronavirus pandemic Euro 2020 is nearly upon us. The month long festival of European football looks set to thrill us with some of the biggest stars in the game hoping to lead their nation to glory.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Euro 2020 Group C, with the Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia all looking to book a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.

NETHERLANDS

The Dutch are back at a major tournament after back-to-back qualification failures. They arrive without their star attraction though in Virgil van Dijk but have drawn themselves a very winnable group to attack.

The Manager – Frank De Boer

The latest stellar name of past great Oranje sides to try his hand at guiding his country to tournament success. The Netherlands have lost three World Cup finals and have won just one European Championship, coming back in 1988 but this summer offers De Boer the chance to rebuild his reputation.

He replaced Ronald Koeman at the beginning of last season after Barcelona came calling, and it came as a surprise given his disastrous managerial spells at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace in recent years. The 4-2 defeat to Turkey in the first game of World Cup 2022 qualifying means the pressure is already on.

One to watch – Memphis Depay

It is remarkable to think the Netherlands are seeking to win their first European Championship game since 2008 when they open their campaign against Ukraine. The UEFA Nations League has offered the Dutch an avenue for resurgence, finishing as runners-up to Portugal in the inaugural tournament, and Depay has gone from strength to strength.

The former Manchester United winger has found his best form at Lyon having reinvented himself under De Boer’s predecessor at international level. Depay scored six goals across as many qualifiers while providing eight assists, and his two strikes in the 2-2 friendly draw with Scotland suggests he is ready to shoulder the burden of attacking responsibility.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax Amsterdam).

Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan), Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven), Jurriem Timber (Ajax Amsterdam), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Joel Veltman (Brighton & Hove Albion), Owen Wijndal (AZ Alkmaar)

Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Ryan Gravenberch, Davy Klaassen (both Ajax Amsterdam), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ Alkmaar), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

Forwards: Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyonnais), Cody Gakpo, Donyell Malen (both PSV Eindhoven), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg).

Best Euro finish: Champions (1988), third place (1976, 1992, 2000, 2004)

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: Netherlands vs Ukraine; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
  • Thursday June 17: Netherlands vs Austria; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
  • Monday June 21: North Macedonia vs Netherlands; Kick-off 5pm (Amsterdam)

UKRAINE

The future looks bright for Ukrainian football. A change in the way they develop players has triggered an influx of talented and technically gifted players coming through their youth academies. Taras Stepanenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi are a midfield to be feared in Group C.

The Manager – Andriy Shevchenko

 

AC Milan legend Shevchenko is approaching his first major tournament as head coach after five years in charge.

Ukraine’s objective is to reach the knockout stages of the European Championship for the first time after group-stage exits in 2012 and 2016. The former Chelsea striker was an assistant coach in France five years ago and was promoted to the No 1 position following the tournament.

One to watch – Andriy Yarmolenko

Let’s start by saying this will be seen as a very favourable group for all four nations, but if Ukraine are to progress they will need Yarmolenko to add to his 38 goals for the Yellow and Blue.

The 31-year-old should be relatively fresh having been a peripheral figure for West Ham under David Moyes this season, and a good tournament here could help manufacture a more lucrative move away from the London Stadium.

As captain, he can be expected to retain his place provided he proves his fitness but he is not the sole threat. Ruslan Malinovskyi scored eight goals for Atalanta in Serie A this season and led the charts for assists, collecting 12 as the club secured Champions League qualification.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Georgiy Bushchan (Dynamo Kyiv), Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Anatolii Trubin (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Defenders: Eduard Sobol (Club Brugge), Illia Zabarnyi (Dynamo Kyiv), Serhiy Kryvtsov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Denys Popov (Dynamo Kyiv), Oleksandr Tymchyk (Dynamo Kyiv), Vitaliy Mykolenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Oleksandr Karavaev (Dynamo Kyiv), Mykola Matviyenko (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Midfielders: Serhiy Sydorchuk (Dynamo Kyiv), Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta), Mykola Shaparenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Marlos (Shakhtar Donetsk), Yevhen Makarenko (Kortrijk), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City), Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kyiv), Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham), Oleksandr Zubkov (Ferencváros), Heorhii Sudakov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Roman Bezus (Gent)

Forwards: Roman Yaremchuk (Gent), Artem Besedin (Dynamo Kyiv), Artem Dovbyk (Dnipro)

Best Euro finish: Group stage (2012, 2016)

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: Netherlands vs Ukraine; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
  • Thursday June 17: Ukraine vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 2pm (Bucharest)
  • Monday June 21: Ukraine vs Austria; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)

AUSTRIA

Austria have taken on a more defensive approach in recent years, seen in dispatches during the 1-0 friendly loss to England at the Riverside. Franco Foda guided Das Team to a runner-up spot behind Poland in qualifying, one place above fellow Group C opponents North Macedonia.

The Manager – Franco Foda

The 55-year-old German won the Austrian Cup with Sturm Graz in 2010 and the Austrian Bundesliga a year later, but this is by far his biggest job.

Austria have never won a game in their six previous matches at the European Championships but in facing the Netherlands, Ukraine and North Macedonia, they will not stand a better chance of ending this record. They face the rank outsiders in the tournament first up in Bucharest and Swiss coach Foda faces the task of being more adventurous in the opener.

One to watch – David Alaba

Austria’s strongest asset still comes through Real Madrid’s new signing David Alaba, a versatile player who has rarely been able to carry his club form onto the international stage.

A defender at Bayern Munich and most likely under Carlo Ancelotti, the 28-year-old has featured more prominently as an attacking midfielder for his country but he will seek support from Christoph Baumgartner, Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Bachmann (Watford), Pavao Pervan (Wolfsburg), Alexander Schlager (LASK)

Defenders: David Alaba (Bayern), Aleksandar Dragović (Leverkusen), Marco Friedl (Werder Bremen), Martin Hinteregger (Frankfurt), Stefan Lainer (Mönchengladbach), Philipp Lienhart (Freiburg), Stefan Posch (Hoffenheim), Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin), Andreas Ulmer (Salzburg)

Midfielders: Julian Baumgartlinger (Leverkusen), Christoph Baumgartner (Hoffenheim), Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim), Stefan Ilsanker (Frankfurt), Konrad Laimer (Leipzig), Valentino Lazaro (Internazionale), Marcel Sabitzer (Leipzig), Louis Schaub (Luzern), Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg), Alessandro Schöpf (Schalke)

Forwards: Marko Arnautović (Shanghai Port), Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg), Sasa Kalajdzic (Stuttgart), Karim Onisiwo (Mainz)

Best Euro finish: Group stage (2008, 2016)

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: Austria vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)
  • Thursday June 17: Netherlands vs Austria; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
  • Monday June 21: Ukraine vs Austria; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)

NORTH MACEDONIA

Four wins and two draws from 10 group matches meant they qualified for this summer’s tournament via the back door, a Path D play-off victory over Georgia. Any such complacency among their group counterparts will surely be punished, in the same way Germany were consigned to their first World Cup qualifying defeat in 20 years only a few months ago.

The Manager – Igor Angelovski

The 45-year-old has been in charge since 2015 when he replaced Ljubinko Drulovic, who left to take over at Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade. Angelovski guided his nation to third place in qualifying behind winners Poland and runners-up Austria. This is his second managerial role having previously been in charge of Rabotnicki.

One to watch – Ezgjan Alioski 

The Leeds midfielder is the sole Premier League representative in Angelovski’s squad and is fresh from an encouraging season under Marcelo Bielsa. His role for the national team is slightly more advanced, having found his position at left-back during the second half of the campaign.

The North Macedonians have geared up for their maiden tournament in style, impressing during their opening World Cup qualifying matches, and Alioski will hope to provide Eljif Elmas with the ammunition having racked up four assists during qualifying. Veteran striker Goran Pandev is a name you will fondly remember from his time in Serie A.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Damjan Siskovski (Doxa Katokopia), Riste Jankov (Rabotnicki)

Defenders: Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb), Visar Musliu (Fehérvár), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkëndija), Kire Ristevski (Újpest), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Ezdzan Alioski (Leeds)

Midfielders: Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Enis Bardhi (Levante), Stefan Spirovski (AEK Larnaca), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok), Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Eljif Elmas (Napoli), Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor), Darko Curlinov (Stuttgart), Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev)

Forwards: Goran Pandev (Genoa), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca), Ivan Trickovski (AEK Larnaca), Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly), Krste Velkovski (Sarajevo), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava)

Best Euro finish: North Macedonia have never previously appeared at the European Championships.

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: Austria vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)
  • Thursday June 17: Ukraine vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 2pm (Bucharest)
  • Monday June 21: North Macedonia vs Netherlands; Kick-off 5pm (Amsterdam)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.