You’ll have just enough time on Sunday afternoon to get over the bitter disappointment of England’s first outing at Euro 2020 (probably) before it’s all systems go once again as Austria face North Macedonia.
You’re probably thinking if there’s one game you’re not too fussed about watching in the group stages it’s this one – let’s be honest, Franco Foda’s side should stroll to victory – but when we tell you Austria have never won a game at the European Championship finals you might be inclined to reconsider.
That being said, North Macedonia really are the underdogs of Euro 2020 and so Sunday’s clash looks a tall order. If you’re going to get behind any team apart from England this summer it should be them.
Here’s 90min’s preview of Group C’s opener…
A preview of North Macedonia ahead of Euro 2020, including strengths, weaknesses and their key players.
A preview of England’s opening game of Euro 2020 as Gareth Southgate’s side meet Croatia.
90min previews Netherlands vs Ukraine at Euro 2020, with TV channel information, team news, predicted lineups and score prediction.
Previewing Belgium’s Euro 2020 clash with Russia.
When is kick-off? Sunday 13 June, 17:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Arena Nationala, Bucharest
What TV channel is it on? ITV
Who is the referee? Andreas Ekberg
Who’s on VAR duty? Bastian Dankert
Foda has a number of decisions to make over players returning from injury, with Marko Arnautovic one of those on his way back to full fitness. The former West Ham man made an appearance from the bench in Austria’s final warm-up game against Slovakia, though he’s unlikely to be risked from the off.
Julian Baumgartlinger is in a very similar position having only recently returned from a cruciate ligament injury that saw him sidelined for over three months. He too isn’t expected to be named in the starting XI.
However, there’s better news regarding Christoph Baumgartner who looks to have fully recovered from his knock having played in both of his side’s warm-up games.
Igor Angelovski has no such fitness concerns to worry about with his squad boasting a clean bill of health.
Napoli’s Eljif Elmas will start in midfield with the North Macedonia side expected to adopt their usual wing-back formation. Leeds’ Ezgjan Alioski will be crucial to his side’s chances as they look to hit Austria on the counter, while veteran forward Goran Pandev (yes, he really is still playing) will lead the line.
If Austria are to progress to the latter rounds of the tournament they need to stop relying so heavily on the goals of Arnautovic, and Baumgartner could be one of those to shoulder the burden. He’s in line to start against North Macedonia and a solid showing could kick off a potentially memorable tournament for him.
Austria: Bachmann; Lainer, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Friedl; Grillitsch, Alaba; Lazaro, Sabitzer, Baumgartner; Kalajdzic
North Macedonia: Dimitrievski; Velkovski, Musliu, Ristevski; Ristovski, Nikolov, Ademi, Elmas, Alioski; Pandev, Trajkovski
Right, we’ve done our best to convince you that Sunday’s match could genuinely be a tight affair with North Macedonia capable of springing a surprise, but now we’re going to be honest.
Austria have many flaws – mainly their head coach’s rigid system which often stifles their best players – but this one should be a formality.
The North Macedonia side are hardly a bunch of plodders, but given the quality in the Austria side Foda’s men should have no problems kicking off their campaign in style.
You can take a picture of this prediction for when 93-year-old Pandev smashes a hat-trick in a 5-0 North Macedonia win.
Prediction: Austria 3-0 North Macedonia