North Macedonia take on Austria in UEFA EURO 2020 Group C in Bucharest on Sunday 13 June at 18:00 CET.
What’s the story?
North Macedonia become the 35th different nation to play at a UEFA EURO final tournament (the day after Finland were number 34) and take on a team whose two previous campaigns in 2008 and 2016 ended without a victory. Austria twice beat North Macedonia in qualifying to ensure automatic entry into the finals. However, North Macedonia’s hard-fought play-off success and March’s shock FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Germany means Austria will not take Goran Pandev and Co lightly.
Where to watch the game on TV
Austria: Bachmann; Dragović, Alaba, Hinteregger; Lainer, Sabitzer, Laimer, X. Schlager, Ulmer; Baumgartner, Kalajdzic
North Macedonia: Dimitrievski; Nikolov, S. Ristovski, D. Velkovski, Musliu, Alioski; Bardi, Ademi, Elmas; Pandev, Trajkovski
Jordan Maciel, Austria reporter: Sunday’s opener will set the tone for Austria’s third EURO adventure. Will they remain perennial underachievers, burdened by the weight of expectation and past failures, or can this talented team unlock its potential and build some much-needed momentum with an opening win? Organised in defence, but struggling for goals, I can see Foda’s side scraping a 1-0 win against the plucky debutants.
Igor Panevski, North Macedonia reporter: Austria beat North Macedonia twice in EURO 2020 qualifying but things have changed in the two years since then. Since the second loss in November 2019, North Macedonia went a team record eight matches without defeat. Five of those were wins, including beating Kosovo and Georgia in the play-offs and then the sensational victory against Germany. At full strength, the team arrived in Bucharest four days ago and are motivated to make more history and show their qualification was merited.
What the coaches say
Franco Foda, Austria coach: “We know about their strengths. They are good in transitions, on the break. We need to be careful in our build-up, we can’t give the ball up easily. We know we will have more possession and probably spend more time in their half, so we will need to move the ball quickly and stay alert defensively to avoid counters.”
Igor Angelovski, North Macedonia coach: “I think that many things have changed since those two [qualifying] matches, because they were played two years ago, if I am right, and during those two years our national team has grown from one match to the next and played better football, the players have made progress in each match, and this is completely different from the qualifiers.”