Group C seems to be one of the duller groups in the European Championship consisting of a powerhouse in the Netherlands, but sides that have failed to make noise on the world stage in North Macedonia, Ukraine, and Austria. However, Austria and Ukraine are two very underrated sides that I believe can make big noise if they make it out of the group stage. For North Macedonia, I don’t see them winning a game but this a huge step for them as they qualified for their first ever european championship.
3 players to watch: Memphis Depay, Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt
Even without Van Dijk, this Netherlands Squad has some great talent at hand and should be the favorites to win this group. They have a very underrated midfield with Wijnaldum, De Jong, De Roon, and possibly Van De Beek. De Jong has been crucial to Barcelona’s success this season and without Van Dijk, he will play an even bigger role defensively. A back three consisting of Blind, De Vrij, and De Ligt is a great blend between youth talent and experience and this will be De Ligt’s big chance to show he is one of the best youngsters in the world. Up top, Depay is the main striker partnered with Weghorst. Depay in qualifiers this season scored six goals along with eight assists. Without Van Dijk, this Netherlands team has only lost one game so the biggest question mark for this team is their midfield and Weghorst’s experience up top. Weghorst has played very few minutes for the national team and with defenses going to be focused on Depay, he will have to step up for the Netherlands to have any chance at winning this tournament.
3 players to watch: Olexasandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Lainovskyi and Mykola Shaparenko
Ukraine is a very slept-on team in this tournament. Andriy Shevchenko has done a great job with this team and has them in a great position to qualify for the knockout phases for the first time in their history. I honestly believe this team can finish first in this group but I am worried about their lack of experience. Ukraine is unbeaten in their last six games with a notable tie against France. Although the Zinchencko will make the headlines for this squad, Ruslan Malinovskyi is very underrated. He has been crucial in Atalanta’s success in Europe and led Seria A in assists. He will be key in the Ukrainian attack due to his set-piece prowess and powerful shot. Ukraine’s big strength is their midfield led by Zinchencko but a player to watch is Shaparenko who is a young midfielder that possesses great vision and attacking flair. Overall this Ukraine team is very underrated and I am excited for them to finally be able to showcase their talent on a national stage
3. North Macedonia
3 players to watch: Ezgjan Alioski, Eljif Elmas and Goran Pandev
Macedonia makes their first major tournament in their history which is a huge milestone for them. I could see them finishing third ahead of Austria but as of now, I have them in fourth. Honestly, this team is very underrated and has some great young talent to watch in, especially in Elmas. Elmas is an extremely versatile midfielder who can play as a box-to-box or as a 10. Macedonia is extremely underrated on the attack with Pandev and Trajovskis finishing combined with Elmas’s creation. However, I have Macedonia finishing third due to their extremely weak defense that has allowed 1.25 goals per 90 minutes in the last calendar year.
3 players to watch: David Alaba, Marcel Sabitzer, Konrad Laimer
Austria hasn’t won a match in a major tournament in over 30 years, and this year, their terrible run continues. Their front line is led by Sasa Kalajdzic, a young striker who has 3 goals in their last 5 games. Arnatouvic is the more experienced option, but with 26 goals in 88 caps, Austria may look elsewhere to solve their goal-scoring woes. Austria has a solid midfield core led by Sabitzer, Kaimer, and Schlager along with Alaba and Baumgartner on the left and right. Their midfield is their strong point but has trouble creating chances in the attacking third. Their defense is sub-par at best and is another huge weak point in their team. Due to their lack of creativity and defense, I have Austria finishing fourth in this group and experiencing yet another early trip home