Netherlands will be aiming to continue their winning run in the UEFA Euro 2020 when they take on North Macedonia in their final Group C clash on Monday.
We are into the final round of fixtures in the group stages of the UEFA Euro 2020 and on Monday evening, two teams whose fates are already sealed will take on each other as Group C leaders Netherlands clash against bottom-feeders North Macedonia at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Netherlands, upon their return to a major international competition, have been an entertaining unit to watch. Having eked out a hard-fought 3-2 win over Ukraine in the opening game, the Oranje sealed their berth in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Austria last time out. With top spot in Group C confirmed, manager Frank de Boer might look to rotate some of his players but aim to keep the winning momentum going.
North Macedonia, meanwhile, were always unlikely to make it past the group stages on their major tournament debut. Nevertheless, Igor Angelovski’s men have shown some fight and grit in the Euros even though they have lost both of their games against Austria and Ukraine. They will, however, be hoping to sign off on a strong note with a statement display against the group leaders.
The last time Netherlands faced North Macedonia was in 2009 in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier, with the Oranje picking up a resounding 4-0 win. Ahead of this David vs Goliath encounter in Amsterdam, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
While manager Igor Angelovski is expected to make some changes to the starting XI, he is expected to stick with a variant of the three-man defensive formation he has used thus far when his team steps out at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Stole Dimitrievski, who stopped a penalty in the last game against Ukraine, ought to continue between the sticks. Egzon Bejtulai could start as one of the three centre-backs, alongside Darko Velkovski and Visar Musliu, with Stefan Ristovski dropping out of the lineup.
Boban Nikolov should yet again be stationed out as the right wing-back while Ezgjan Alioski is a certainty on the left, from where he will look to exploit any spaces left behind by the Netherlands wing-backs. He will be key in supplying the crosses for the two forwards, who ought to be captain Goran Pandev and Aleksandar Trajkovski.
Meanwhile, the onus of stopping the Netherlands’ midfield runners is likely to fall upon the shoulders of Arijan Ademi, who will have support from Enis Bardhi in the middle of the park. The other central midfielder, Napoli’s Eljif Elmas, will look to add the creative touch when his team are in possession.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Dimitrievski; Bejtulai, Velkovski, Musliu; Nikolov, Bardhi, Ademi, Elmas, Alioski; Pandev, Trajkovski
Like his opposite number, Netherlands manager Frank de Boer is also set to rotate some of his regulars on Monday evening to keep them safe and fresh for the knockouts. There is no looking past Maarten Stekelenburg in goal for the Oranje but there could be a couple of alterations in the three-man defensive unit.
Youngster Jurrien Timber and Nathan Ake ought to get a run-out at the heart of the Dutch defence, with Matthijs de Ligt completing the trifecta. Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind will be two dropping out. Denzel Dumfries, who has been brilliant so far in the Euros, should continue at right wing-back from where he will push forward relentlessly while Owen Wijndal comes in for Patrick van Aanholt on the opposite wing.
Meanwhile, the Ajax duo of Ryan Gravenberch and Davy Klaassen could get a look-in in the middle of the park for Netherlands against North Macedonia. The former will hold down the fort in the centre while the latter provides the attacking impetus, along with captain Georginio Wijnaldum, who will operate in a free role higher up the pitch.
Up top, there should be a couple of changes on the cards as both Memphis Depay and Wout Weghorst are given a breather. In their place Luuk de Jong and Donyell Malen should get a chance to make an impression on Monday.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Stekelenburg; Timber, de Ligt, Ake; Dumfries, Wijnaldum, Gravenberch, Klaassen, Wijndal; de Jong, Malen
North Macedonia: LLWDW
- This will be just the fifth meeting between North Macedonia and Netherlands. The former haven’t won a single game in their previous four contests (D2 L2).
- Netherlands are currently on a six-game unbeaten run. During this period, Frank de Boer’s side have kept four clean sheets, conceding just four goals while scoring 19.
- After a run of four matches without a loss, North Macedonia have been defeated in each of their last two encounters.
Player in Focus
Goran Pandev (North Macedonia)
37-year old Goran Pandev has confirmed that the game tomorrow versus the Netherlands will be his final appearance for North Macedonia
What a career. pic.twitter.com/acno5dKfT3
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) June 20, 2021
Monday’s game will be the last time that veteran forward Goran Pandev takes the field for North Macedonia. Indeed, the captain has confirmed that he will be retiring after the UEFA Euro 2020, making the game at Amsterdam ArenA a special occasion for the 37-year-old forward.
Having scored North Macedonia’s first-ever goal in a major competition in the defeat to Austria, Pandev will be intent on signing off with another goal or two when he leads his side against Netherlands.
Donyell Malen (Netherlands)
The young forward has had to largely watch from the sidelines as Frank de Boer has preferred the attacking tandem of Wout Weghorst and Memphis Depay. However, with the manager likely to rest either one or both of them on Monday, the ex-Arsenal starlet should get a chance to make his mark on his first-ever major international debut.
Going up against a North Macedonia backline that has let in five goals in their two games, Malen will back his chances to find the back of the net at least once, with his pace and movement likely to cause problems to the minnows.
North Macedonia 0-2 Netherlands
Regardless of the outcome of the game, both teams know where they will be finishing in the Group C standings. So, we can expect some major alterations to the starting XIs made by both managers. While credit must be given to North Macedonia for the spirit they have shown in their debut tournament, the gulf of class between the two teams just too wide for them to stand a chance on Monday.