Group C sees Holland back in the big time after missing the last two major competitions.
Macedonia are making their debut in any kind of major tournament.
Austria are equally seeking their first ever win at a European Championships.
Ukraine are not much better, with just the one victory at the Euros they hosted in 2012.
The Dutch have home advantage with all other games based in Romania.
The golden generation Austrians assumed they had just never ended up happening.
Still waiting for the likes of David Alaba and Arnautovic to deliver on the big stage for their nation, both now in their prime.
It’s not ideal that one of your best players plays in China while Alaba sums up the lack of balance in the squad.
Real Madrid have just signed him based on his performances as a centre back yet for his country he plays on the left of a midfield.
Surely, they will never have a better chance of a first ever Euros win than facing Macedonia in a neutral venue.
Equally it wouldn’t be a shock if they don’t show up.
It’s like their fans have given up hope after being let down over the years.
Ranked outsiders to lift the trophy at 500-1. To put that in perspective, Scotland is 250-1. Yet I don’t think Macedonia are going to be the whipping boys some assume.
In their 27 years since independence they have quietly improved at Football and worked their way up the rankings, occasionally getting a shock result over the years.
As recently as March they won in Germany so I have seen bigger shocks than them beating Austria or Ukraine who might not like the pressure of playing against an underdog.
North Macedonia benefited from the silly rule of making the playoffs based on your Nation League results. I think they might equally benefit from the nonsense of being one of the best third place teams.
They will at least get a shock result at some point.
Would be even more romantic if Pandev scores the winner. At 37, he got his first cap in 2001! (I was in year 10)
While some nations have benefitted from having an extra year to prepare for the Euros, Holland’s chances of being an outside threat to win it were a lot better 12 months ago. You sense their fans and media know that as well.
Ronald Koeman had brought back some hope but then he couldn’t resist the Barcelona job, while VVD was injured the majority of the season.
Frank De Boer has struggled as manager; Blind hasn’t played for a couple of months, while some of their youngsters haven’t had vintage seasons.
The target for the Dutch is to use this tournament as a chance for a young group to learn.
They should finish top 2 based on home advantage, but it wouldn’t take a lot for home fans to turn. At that point I don’t know if there would be enough leaders to respond?
Managed by their greatest ever player, Shevchenko has made the Ukraine entertaining to watch, which I probably have never felt before.
They topped a qualifying group including Portugal, taking 4 points off them.
A year ago they beat Spain in the Nations League and in March drew in France.
So this is a team improving all the time
If they had home advantage, I was really confident, but you simply don’t know how they will handle the expectation.
Most readers will be aware of Zinchenko who plays further forward then he does at the Etihad, as well as Andriy Yarmolenko at West Ham. Keep an eye on Malinovskyi on free kicks.
Maybe they lack an out and out goal scorer but are a young team who if they start well might build some momentum?
I wouldn’t be shocked if they got a result against Holland.
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