Euro 2020 Group C Preview: Austria, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Ukraine.
Group C of the Euro 2020 is considered by many observers to be the weakest of the six groups in this tournament. None of the four teams competed in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Yet it may be premature to write off any of these sides, with all four being able to point to recent positive developments.
The Netherlands was one of Europe’s heavyweights last decade with an appearance in the 2010 World Cup final followed by a semifinals finish in the 2014 World Cup. After failing to qualify for the Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, manager Ronald Koeman got tasked to overhaul the roster from its golden generation with younger talent. The Flying Dutchmen reached the finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, where they lost to Portugal two years ago. The Oranje finished second in their Euro qualifying group to Germany, against whom they split their two matches.
Koeman’s good work elevated him to take over as the manager at Barcelona last year. Frank de Boer got hired as his replacement. He will be missing some key players this summer. Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, perhaps the best defender in the world, remains out with the torn ACL injury that kept him on the sidelines for most of the English Premier League campaign. Manchester United midfielder Danny Van de Been was kept off the final roster due to his groin injury. First-string keeper Jasper Cillessen is out after a positive COVID test.
The Dutch still have intriguing younger talent that will have a chance to shine this summer. Frankie de Jong plays the midfield for Barcelona. Matthis de Ligt is a defender for Juventus. Memphis Depay scored 21 goals for Lyon in Ligue 1.
The Netherlands are ranked 16th in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them 9th. DraftKings lists the Flying Dutchmen at +1500 odds to win the tournament.
Ukraine has played in the two most recent Euros but has lost five of their six matches and failed to advance out of its group. The Blue and Yellows went unbeaten in their Euro qualifying matches to finish in first place ahead of Portugal. They are also unbeaten in their World Cup qualifying matches.
Manager Andrew Shevchenko’s group is led by Rusian Malinovskiy, who will be on set pieces and penalty kicks. The Atalanta attacking midfielder led Serie A with 12 assists last season. Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko will be a familiar name for many. A majority of the roster consists of players from the Ukrainian Premier League.
FIFA ranks Ukraine 24th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 20th. DraftKings lists the Blue and Yellows with +10000 odds to win the tournament.
Austria will be striving for its first victory at a Euro or major international competition since 1990. Das Team managed a draw in their three group stage matches at the 2016 Euro. Manager Frank Foda oversaw a second-place finish to Poland in the Euro qualifying matches.
The roster consists of some compelling talent from the Bundesliga. David Alba has played a role in the Bayern Munich backline for years, although he recently signed with Real Madrid. Alba has moved to left wing when playing for his national team in the past. Center midfielders Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer feature at RB Leipzig. Forward Sasa Kalajdzic scored 16 goals in 33 games for VfB Stuttgart last season.
Austria is ranked 23rd in the world by FIFA. They are 34th in the ELO ratings. DraftKings lists them at +10000 to win the tournament.
North Macedonia makes its debut in a major international tournament after only being a nation since 1990. The Lynxes did not advance from the Euro qualifiers after a third-place finish which included two losses to second place Austria. They beat Kosovo and Georgia in a qualifying playoff to reach this competition. A 2-1 victory at Germany in a World Cup qualifying match on March 31st should put their opponents on notice.
37-year-old Goran Pandev leads the attack up top. The Genoa forward returned from international to participate this summer and add to the 117 caps he has for his national team. Egzijan Alioski plays left back for Leeds United. Eljif Elmas is an attacking midfielder from Napoli.
North Macedonia's FIFA ranking of 62nd is the lowest in the tournament. The ELO ratings place them 59th in the world. DraftKings lists the Lynxes at +50000 odds to win the event.