Preview: Euro 2020 Group C
Group C consists of Austria, the Netherlands, Ukraine plus one team from the play-offs.
Ranking: 26th (Fifa); 16th (Uefa)
Against the Netherlands: W-6 D-4 L-9 S-24 C-36
Against Ukraine: W-1 D-0 L-1 S-4 C-4
Key Player – Marcel Sabitzer: The attacking midfielder is one of several key contributors for Das Team, getting two goals and five assists in nine games for his country as they finished behind winners Poland in Euro qualifying Group G.
Next summer’s European Championship will only be the third time that Austria have made it to the Euros, the first being in 2008 when they co-hosted with Switzerland. The team, currently managed by Franco Foda, have never gone beyond the group stage.
In fact, they have only ever got one point from each of the other two Euros for which they have qualified. This time round, they sealed their spot at next summer’s tournament by beating Macedonia 2-1 in a must-win game, courtesy of goals from David Alaba and Stefan Lainer.
Ranking: 14th (Fifa); 9th (Uefa)
Against Ukraine: W-1 D-1 L-0 S-4 C-1
Against Austria: W-9 D-4 L-6 S-36 C-24
Key Player – Virgil Van Dijk: The Dutch skipper is one of three defenders to make the Ballon D’Or shortlist. He has been an important cog for club side Liverpool, helping them to win the Champions League last season, following a runners-up finish the year before.
Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands are favourites to win Group C, having been reinvigorated following their failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This will be the 10th time they have featured in the Euro finals, with the Dutch winning the trophy in West Germany in 1988.
The one criticism of the Oranje is that they lack a top-level recognised striker, with the majority of their goals being supplied by Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay. The pair scored 24 in qualifying, including scoring six in the two matches against Germany, who topped the group.
Ranking: 24th (Fifa); 15th (Uefa)
Against Austria: W-1 D-0 L-1 S-4 C-4
Against the Netherlands: W-0 D-1 L-1 S-1 C-4
Key Player – Andriy Pyatov: The 93-cap international is currently Ukraine’s captain. In their 2-2 draw with Serbia, he became the most-capped goalkeeper for his team. Pyatov is a legend of the game in Ukraine and has made 443 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk, conceding just 370 goals and winning nine league titles with them.
Ukraine’s form was lifted when their most famous former player, Andriy Shevchenko, finally took the manager’s role after refusing it several times previously. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, though only finished three points off of Croatia.
This time out in qualifying, Shevchenko’s men topped Group B with two games to spare after beating favourites Portugal 2-1. Roman Yaremchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko scored, before a late scare from Cristiano Ronaldo, ensuring a place in a major tournament for the third time.
In terms of who makes the knockout stages, it is likely to be a scrap between Ukraine and Austria for second place behind the Dutch. Both could make it through as one of the best third-placed teams, but both would be in the knockout phase for the first time.
The final team will be the Winner of Path D in the play-offs (Georgia; Belarus; North Macedonia; Kosovo) – unless Romania win Path A containing Iceland, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Rankings and key players for the possible other Group C team
Georgia: 91st (Fifa), 38th (Uefa); Belarus 87th (Fifa), 37th (Uefa); North Macedonia: 68th (Fifa), 36th (Uefa); Kosovo: 115th (Fifa), 46th (Uefa); Romania: 37th (Fifa), 22nd (Uefa).
Georgia – Jaba Kankava: Captain of his national team, the experienced defensive midfielder is currently is playing for Tobol in the Kazakhstan Premier League. He has played over 80 times for his country and he featured in Ligue 1 for Stade de Reims a couple of years ago.
Belarus – Syarhey Palitsevich: He is one of many experienced faces in the Belarusian camp, having been capped 31 times. Currently, the centre-back is playing for Kairat Almaty, recent runners-up in Kazakhstan Premier League.
North Macedonia – Goran Pandev: Pandev is a legend in his home country – not only is he the most-capped player with 108, he is also their all-time top scorer with 34 goals. Despite having turned 36, if his country made it through, he would likely be selected for one final hurrah.
Kosovo – Milot Rashica: The Werder Bremen star made the switch to featuring for Kosovo after playing twice for Albania. His debut for them came in August 2016 against Finland.
Romania – Ciprian Tătărușanu: The experienced ‘keeper is his team’s most capped star and has experience from featuring in 2016 European Championships in France. He has spent the last couple of years in the top flights of Italy and France.
Sunday 14 June (all kick-offs Central European Time):
Austria v Play-off winner D or A (18:00, Bucharest)
Netherlands v Ukraine (21:00, Amsterdam)
Thursday 18 June:
Ukraine v Play-off winner D or A (15:00, Bucharest)
Netherlands v Austria (21:00, Amsterdam)
Monday 22 June:
Play-off winner D or A v Netherlands (18:00, Amsterdam)
Ukraine v Austria (18:00, Bucharest)
Routes to the later stages:
Round of 16:
Saturday 27 June: 1A v 2C (21:00, London)
Sunday 28 June: 1C v 3D/E/F (18:00, Budapest)
Monday 29 June: 1F v 3A/B/C (21:00, Bucharest)
Tuesday 30 June: 1E v 3A/B/C/D (21:00, Glasgow)
Friday 3 July: Winner 6 v Winner 5 (18:00, Saint Petersburg); Winner 4 v Winner 2 (21:00, Munich)
Saturday 4 July: Winner 3 v Winner 1 (18:00, Baku); Winner 8 v Winner 7 (21:00, Rome)
Tuesday 7 July: Winner QF2 v Winner QF1 (21:00, London)
Wednesday 8 July: Winner QF4 v Winner QF3 (21:00, London)
Sunday 12 July- Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (21:00, London)
Key:W= Won; D= Draw; L= Lost; S= Scored; C= Conceded
National Arena, Bucharest, main photo by Carpathianland via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0.Amsterdam Arena photo by Javier Novo Rodriguez via Flickr Creative Commons, licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0