Euro 2020: Rank outsiders North Macedonia dream of tournament impact

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Bookmakers have them at 500/1, but they will be pleased that they have been drawn in what is arguably the tournaments weakest group. Netherlands are by far the poorest out of the first seeded teams while Austria and Ukraine are both beatable. North Macedonia pulled off the shock of the last International break in March, beating Germany 2-1 away in Duisburg, showing they can cause an upset.

Group C: NORTH MACEDONIA, Netherlands, Austria, Ukraine
Manager: Igor Angelovski
Odds (PP): 500/1
Recent Tournaments: N/A
FIFA World Ranking: 62nd

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Key Man

Goran Pandev. At 37, the Serie A veteran is still Macedonia’s key man. He scored the opener in the win over Germany in March and can line-up anywhere across the front four. Having been a key part of Inter’s famous treble winning side in 2010, he now finds himself a regular starter at Genoa where his 7 league goals this season helped secure a mid-table finish. With skipper Ilija Nestorovski out injured, Pandev will captain the side this summer.

The Squad

Rayo Vallecano shot stopper Stole Dimitrievski should start in goal for the Macedonians. Leeds flyer Ezgjan Alioski was selected and could feature at both left-back, where he’s filled in for Leeds this season, or as a winger, his natural position.

Dinamo Zagreb duo, right back Stefan Ristovski and midfielder Arijan Ademi, are both included and should start. Both were part of the side that toppled Tottenham in the Europa League in March.

Napoli’s Elif Elmas and Levante’s Enis Bardhi are selected and expected to line-up in advanced midfield.
They will be without captain, Ilija Nestorovski, as the Udinese striker misses out through injury. In his place either Pandev or Mallorca forward Aleksandar Trajkovski are expected to lead the line.

One to Watch

Eljif Elmas. The Napoli youngster has shown plenty of promise, despite limited minutes since his move from Fenerbache in 2019. At 21, he is a key member of the Macedonia side and scored the decisive late winner in the historic victory over Germany. While most of his appearances this season have come off the bench, he has impressed. His wonderful solo goal against Parma in January is worth looking at.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Damjan Siskovski (Doxa), Risto Jankov (Rabotnichki)

Defenders: Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb), Kire Ristevski (Ujpest), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi), Ezgjan Alioski (Leeds United), Visar Musliu (Fehervar), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkendija)

Midfielders: Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Stefan Spirovski (AEK), Enis Bardhi (Levante), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok), Elif Elmas (Napoli), Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Darko Curlinov (Stuttgart), Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev), Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor)

Forwards: Goran Pandev (Genoa), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca), Krste Velkoski (Sarajevo), Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly), Ivan Trickovski (AEK Larnaca), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava)

The Author

Daragh Searing

Student and sports fanatic, aged 19. I availed of the extra time on my hands during the pandemic to get into sportswriting, something I've always had strong interest in. Man United fan but also a keen follower of Serie A & European football. Hoping to pursue a career in sportswriting, with Soccer and Rugby my areas of expertise. email: searingdaragh9@gmail.com

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