Austria vs North Macedonia is the first match of Group C and it takes place in Bucharest on June 13. This is Austria’s third appearance in the European Championship finals having co-hosted the 2008 edition with Switzerland. They face a North Macedonia side who have never qualified for a major finals before since breaking away from Yugoslavia in 1993. Read on for our betting tips and match predictions
While Austria have won seven of their last 11 international fixtures, their recent form has not been so great with just a win over the Faroe Islands in their last four games. A heavy 4-0 defeat to Denmark in Vienna in their World Cup qualifying match in March shows why Austria are outsiders to go far in this tournament; however it should be noted that Das Team did beat Norway, Northern Ireland and Romania on the road last year. It’s been five games since Franco Foda’s men have kept a clean sheet which suggests that the defence is what might be the issue.
On the other hand North Macedonia come into this tournament on a massive high having beaten Germany 2-1 in Duisburg in March thanks to Eljif Elmas’ late winner. In fact North Macedonia have only lost twice in their last 11 games, although it is worth noting that most of those victories have come against weaker international sides and that one of their defeats was against Armenia in November. Head Coach Igor Angelovski will be anxious to prove that win over Germany wasn’t just a fluke.
Austrian skipper Julian Baumgartlinger is named in the preliminary squad having missed a large chunk of the season with his club due a cruciate ligament injury. Baumgartlinger did return to Bayer Leverkusen’s squad for their final game of the season with Dortmund but there is a question mark over if he will be ready for the tournament. Austria will also be hopeful Marko Arnautovic is ready for action with his club side only returning to action in March.
Angelovski has named his final squad for the tournament with one notable exception being Udinese forward Ilija Nesterovski. Nesterovski misses out having had cruciate ligament surgery in April, meaning more pressure falls on North Macedonian skipper Goran Pandev. Pandev has more caps and more goals for North Macedonia than any other player but at 37 his age will surely be a factor in how much he can do for his team.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Austria come into this game as clear favourites. While North Macedonia are in better form of late, barring that famous win over Germany the majority of their victories have been against weak sides and the defeat to Armenia showed how fragile the North Macedonian team can be. If North Macedonia can show the same resilience against Austria that they did against Germany then the value betting tips have to be in the handicap market.