The Group C of UEFA Euro 2020 consists of Netherlands, Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine. The six matches of this group will be played in the Romanian capital Bucharest and Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam. 1988 European Championship winners Netherlands start as favourites to progress from this group with Austria and Ukraine fighting for the one remaining spot. However, even finishing third could beneficial because four of the best third-placed teams qualify for the knockout phase. And last time, Portugal who finished third in their group went on to lift the trophy. Both Ukraine and Austria will be playing their third Euro while North Macedonia has qualified for the very first time.
Ahead of the start of the tournament, here are the profiles of the coaches of all four teams:
Austria: Franco Foda
The German manager took over the reins of the Austrian team in 2017 after their former coach Marcel Koller’s contract expired. While Koller preferred a fast-paced, high-pressing game, Froda is exactly the opposite. The former Bayer Leverkusen player prefers a much safe, defence-first approach. While it may not sound interesting but his playing style has bore fruit for the Austrians. Under his tutelage, Austria have won 21 of the 34 matches they have played. Also, 21 of their 26-member squad featured in the German Bundesliga in this past season. Many pundits are counting the Austrians as the dark horse in this Euro.
One of the major issues that Foda will have to deal with is Austria dismal record at the championship. In six matches at past European Championships, Austria has zero wins, two draws, and only one goal scored from regular play. ‘Das Team’ finished runner-up to Poland in Euro 2020 qualifying in a group that also included upcoming opponent North Macedonia.
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Netherlands: Frank de Boer
The overwhelming favourites to top this group, former Dutch international Frank de Boer has a flurry of options available for him. While he will be missing out on the services of colossal Virgil Van Dijk but the other names on the sheet should calm him down.
He took over the command of the Dutch squad after Ronald Koeman left for Barcelona, however, the transition was not as smooth as the former Crystal Palace manager would have hoped for. Under Koeman, Netherlands reached the finals of the UEFA Nations League and even finished second in Group C. de Boer started his international coaching innings with a loss against Mexico in a friendly, it took him five games to register his first win. Since then, it has been a decent run, they have won four, drawn four and lost two of the matches they have played.
Under him, Netherlands have tried and tested a lot of formations and finally have zeroed in on a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2 with wingers spearheading the attack instead of the renowned 4-3-3 Dutch formation. Frenkie de Jong is likely to be his architect in-chief with Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen their attacking nodes using their pace and trickery.
Preferred formation: 3-4-2-1
North Macedonia: Igor Angelovski
The 45-year-old has been in charge of North Macedonia for almost six years now, and in these six years, he has led North Macedonia in 49 matches, out of which he has won 22, drawn 11 and lost 16. Under him, the former Yugoslav republic booked their maiden European Championship berth via a new qualifying format. This after UEFA has a guaranteed tournament place for a lower-ranked country that wins a group in the bottom tier of the Nations League.
His team is led by Serie A veteran and a treble winner with Inter Milan Goran Pandev. Angelovski, after taking over the top post made Pandev come out of international retirement. So far, that has worked wonders for the North Macedonian. Pandev played an important role when North Macedonia registered their biggest victory so far when they beat Germany 2-1 in March this year.
The Lynxes come into this tournament with no pressure whatsoever but don’t be surprised if they ring in a few shocking results.
Preferred formation: 3-4-1-2
Ukraine: Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko, inarguably Ukraine’s greatest ever footballer took over the coach’s job almost five years back after serving as an assistant manager in the last Euro. He has been in charge for 46 games now and his team has won 22 of those, drawn 13 and lost 11. Victories over Portugal in 2019 and the one over Spain last in the Nations League have been the highlight of his coaching career so far. They also held France to a draw away in World Cup qualifying.
After being slotted in a favourable group, the AC Milan legend would hope to guide his team to the knockouts for the first time in their history. During qualification, Ukraine topped their Euro 2020 qualifying group ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
With the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Andriy Yarmolenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi at his disposal, Sheva encouraged a flowing and adventurous style of play that was at odds with the often conservative tactics adopted by many of his predecessors. These changes produced rapid results as they remained unbeaten for the entire year in 2019 and qualified for the 2020 European Championship in some style.
Preferred formation: 4-3-3 Attacking