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The UEFA Euro 2020 returns to the fold with another set of important matches this weekend as Austria lock horns with North Macedonia at the National Arena on Sunday. Both teams will want to make an impact on the tournament and will have to be at their best in this match.
Austria have a strong squad going into this tournament and will want to give the Netherlands a run for their money this month. The Austrians were held to a 0-0 stalemate by Slovakia in their previous match and will need to step up this weekend.
North Macedonia are the underdogs in Group C at the moment and will want to pull off a few upsets this summer. The away side stunned Germany in a World Cup qualifier earlier this year and will want to achieve a similar result in this match.
Date, kick-off time and venue
|Photo: Mr. Fixit's Tips|
Austria vs North Macedonia is scheduled for a 5pm BST kick-off on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
The match will be held at Bucharest’s Arena Nationala.
Austria vs North Macedonia: Match preview
Austria will be appearing in just their third ever European Championships this summer and will be hoping to improve on their previous two attempts to escape the group stage.
Das Team automatically qualified as co-hosts in 2008 along with Switzerland and then advanced from the qualifiers in 2016. However, in both major tournaments, they were eliminated in the group stage, losing two and drawing one of their three matches, meaning they are yet to win a single game at the finals.
Franco Foda – who will be leading the Austrian side at his first major tournament as a manager, after succeeding Marcel Koller in 2018 – believes that his squad have what it takes to reach the knockout rounds, although their form needs to improve if they are to secure a top-two place, or one of the four best third-placed spots.
Austria head into Sunday's opener with North Macedonia having failed to score or win any of their last three international games; a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark was followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat to England and a goalless draw with Slovakia in their final warm-up match last week.
Nevertheless, Das Team – who claimed victories in both of their fixtures against North Macedonia during the qualifiers, winning by an aggregate of 6-2 – will feel that this weekend's encounter is their most realistic chance to claim three points in Group C.
For the first time in their 27-year history, North Macedonia will be taking part in a major tournament this summer when they compete on Europe's biggest stage.
Ranked 62nd in the world by FIFA – the lowest of any side competing at Euro 2020 – few are predicting that the Red Lynxes will progress from the group stage, however head coach Igor Angelovski is keen to prove his side are not just here to make up the numbers.
North Macedonia's preparations for this tournament have been strong, losing only two of their last 10 international matches across all competitions, and winning three of their last four, scoring 12 goals in the process.
A convincing 5-0 World Cup qualifier victory against European minnows Liechtenstein was shortly followed by a historic triumph away at four-time world champions and three-time European victors Germany, with Napoli's Eljif Elmas scoring a dramatic 85th minute winner.
The Red Lynxes extended their unbeaten run to four matches, with a 1-1 draw against Slovenia and then a 4-0 victory at home to Kazakhstan in their final two warm-up games earlier this month.
North Macedonia are set to battle with both Austria and Ukraine for second place, with the Netherlands expected to top Group C. Victory on Sunday would be one of many upsets they will look to cause this summer, as they embark on their quest to prove the doubters wrong and advance from the group stage.
Austria vs North Macedornia: Team news
|Photo: Getty Images|
Goalkeepers: Daniel Bachmann, Pavao Pervan, Alexander Schlager
Defenders: David Alaba, Aleksandar Dragovic, Marco Friedl, Martin Hinteregger, Stefan Lainer, Philipp Lienhart, Phillipp Mwene, Stefan Posch, Christopher Trimmel, Andreas Ulmer
Midfielders: Husein Balic, Julian Baumgartlinger, Christoph Baumgartner, Florian Grillitsch, Stefan Ilsanker, Konrad Laimer, Valentino Lazaro, Marcel Sabitzer, Louis Schaub, Xaver Schlager, Alessandro Schopf
Forwards: Marko Arnautovic, Michael Gregoritsch, Sasa Kalajdzic, Karim Onisiwo
North Macedonia squad
Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski, Damjan Siskovski, Riste Jankov
Defenders: Stefan Ristovski, Visar Musliu, Egzon Bejtulai, Kire Ristevski, Gjoko Zajkov, Darko Velkovski, Ezdzan Alioski
Midfielders: Arijan Ademi, Enis Bardhi, Stefan Spirovski, Boban Nikolov, Tihomir Kostadinov, Ferhan Hasani, Eljif Elmas, Daniel Avramovski, Darko Curlinov, Marjan Radeski
Forwards: Goran Pandev, Aleksandar Trajkovski, Ivan Trickovski, Vlatko Stojanovski, Krste Velkovski, Milan Ristovski
Austria vs North Macedonia Prediction
Austria have relied heavily on a core group of players in the past and will need to put their best foot forward in this match. The home side cannot afford to underestimate North Macedonia and will want to avoid a negative result in their first game at Euro 2020.
North Macedonia can pack a punch on their day and will adopt a counter-attacking approach to this match. Austria are the better team on paper, however, and should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Austria 2-1 North Macedonia
Austria vs North Macedonia Head-to-Head
Austria have a flawless record against North Macedonia and have won both the games played between the two teams. North Macedonia have never defeated Austria in an official fixture and will need to be at their best this weekend.
The previous meeting between the two teams took place in 2019 and ended in a 2-1 victory for Austria. North Macedonia gave a good account of themselves on the day and will need to take it up a notch on Sunday.
Austria form guide: D-L-L-W-D
North Macedonia form guide: W-D-W-W-L
Austria vs Macedonia: Betting tips
|Photo: Getty Images|
Austria & BTTS
These two countries met twice in 2019 and on both occasions, Austria won and both teams scored. Austria have only won one of their last six international matches but they have played against some tough opponents during that period and three of those games ended with both teams scoring. Both teams have also scored in three of North Macedonia's last five fixtures and they have lost two of their last three games outside of Macedonia.
Over 2.5 Goals
Each of the two previous meetings between these two countries have produced over 2.5 goals and we're expecting more of the same on Sunday. Three of Austria's last five fixtures have witnessed over 2.5 goals being scored and the same can be said for four of North Macedonia's last five outings, adding plenty of weight to our prediction for at least three goals being scored this weekend.
Sasa Kalajdzic to Score
Sasa Kalajdzic is fairly new to the Austria national team but the striker has netted 3-goals in 7 appearances for his country. The Stuttgart forward enjoyed a very successful campaign in the Bundesliga this season, netting 16-goals in 33 games. Each of Kalajdzic's international goals arrived during the World Cup qualifiers this year and he is much better form than the more established Marko Arnautovic.
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