Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Top 5 players to watch out for in AUT vs MKD: Franco Foda’s Austria begin their Euro 2020 campaign in Group C against North Macedonia on Sunday. The sides lock horns at the National Arena in Bucharest with the hope of securing maximum points before tougher fixtures against Netherlands and Ukraine.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Austria are the more experienced at this competition and start as slight favourites. However, North Macedonia secured qualification by exceeding all expectations and against all odds. The tiny Balkan nation have no intention of slowing down or playing it safe either as suggested by coach Igor Angelovski.
Ahead of what looks like a promising and rather open game of football, we profile the top five players to watch out for during Austria versus North Macedonia.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Top 5 players to watch out for in AUT vs MKD:
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Key Player 1
David Alaba (Austria)
Arguably the most decorated player to have come from Austria, Alaba has represented his nation for well over a decade now. However, the 28-year-old has not been able to lead Austria to anything noteworthy just yet.
This could be his chance though, especially if he can help Austria get off to a positive start. Alaba scored against North Macedonia during the home leg of their Euro qualifiers and will be keen to stamp his authority on the game again.
If Austria are to register their first ever win in the Euros, Alaba will almost definitely have to play an integral role starting Sunday in Bucharest.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Key Player 2
Goran Pandev (North Macedonia)
No one comes close to the legacy of Pandev in North Macedonia. The veteran striker is nothing short of a cult hero back in his homeland. However, limiting his genius to just within the tiny nation would be gross injustice.
In addition to earning the most caps (119) and scoring the most goals (37) for North Macedonia, Pandev has also netted 100 goals in Serie A, where he has played for four different clubs.
At 37 years old, Pandev is hoping to use the Euros as his last dance with North Macedonia. The fact that he directly contributed to 10 goals for Genoa last season proves that he still knows the tunes.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Key Player 3
Marcel Sabitzer (Austria)
The RB Leipzig captain is expected to be the main creative outlet in midfield for Austria. Sabitzer, who registered nine goals and seven assists in all competitions last season, has directly contributed to more than 10 goals in each of the last four seasons for Leipzig.
At the international stage, Sabitzer is fairly experienced after having earned 50 caps at senior level. The 27-year-old will hope to enjoy a free role in midfield ahead of the stability provided by Alaba and Florian Grillitsch in the double-pivot behind him.
If he does get going, North Macedonia will be in for a long night.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Key Player 4
Eljif Elmas (North Macedonia)
Many people consider Elmas as the future of North Macedonian football and the midfielder has earned it from a young age. Even before his big move to Napoli in 2019, Elmas had lived up to the tag of being the “diamond” at Rabotnicki and Fenerbahce.
The 21-year-old has already netted 7 goals in 27 senior appearances for North Macedona. While Elmas was the top-scorer for his country during their historic qualification to this year’s Euro, he followed it up with the winning goal in their remarkable win over Germany in a World Cup qualifier.
Without the shadow of a doubt, Elmas is one of the most promising talents in the competition.
Euro 2020, Austria vs North Macedonia: Key Player 5
Marko Arnautovic (Austria)
Confirmation has yet to arrive on whether Arnautovic is fit enough to start the opening game for Austria. The former West Ham forward was the top-scorer for Austria during the qualifying rounds but was restricted to just the final 30 minutes against Slovakia in their final warm-up friendly.
It will be interesting to see if Arnautovic starts on Sunday. Sasa Kalajdzic is an able deputy having scored 16 goals in the Bundesliga for Stuttgart last season. However, Arnautovic has more big-game experience and can be absolutely lethal on his day. Just ask some West Ham fans.