Table of Contents
The qualification path and the group
North Macedonia has had a long journey to reach Euro 2020. Third in its qualifying group behind Poland and Austria but ahead of Slovenia, Israel and Latvia, the selection of the Balkans had the opportunity to play dams. An opportunity acquired thanks to his first place in the League of Nations in a group made up of Armenia, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein. North Macedonia had to erase Kosovo (2-1) in play-offs before taming Georgia (1-0) and reaching the final phase of the Euro for the first time in its history. Against the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria, North Macedonia will be the smallest of the group and even of the tournament.
The eleven type:
The qualities and weaknesses
At the Euro, North Macedonia will not be in a strong position but will nevertheless have grounds for hope. With a well-oiled 3-4-1-2, the selection of the Red Lions is sure of its collective. This was noticed on March 31 during the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a historic victory against Germany (2-1). On an individual level, North Macedonia also has some guarantees since the Stefan Ristovski and Ezgjan Alioski pistons have a wide range. The former shines with Dinamo Zagreb while the latter has made good progress over the past few seasons at Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa. North Macedonia can also count on an attacking tandem made up of Goran Pandev and Aleksandar Trajkovski. Small blow, the package of the Udinese striker Ilija Nestorovski who should have started holder.
The main force of North Macedonia is nevertheless found in the midfield with the magical trio of Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Enis Bardhi (Levante) and Eljif Elmas (Napoli). The first is valuable in the balance of the game while the other two are valuable in creation. Announced as the future pillar of the selection at just 21 years old, Eljif Elmas will be particularly scrutinized and this competition will serve as a handover with Goran Pandev. On the other hand, North Macedonia will have to be careful defensively. If the Red Lions have conceded only 10 goals in the last eight games, it is in this position where they have the fewest guarantees. Goalkeeper of Rayo Vallecano, Stole Dimitrievski sometimes had absences which were detrimental. North Macedonia will also have to deal with a fairly limited qualitatively bench.
The coach: Igor Angelovski
Former player Igor Angelovski (44) is not the most experienced coach in the competition. At the head of Rabotnicki Skopje between 2013 and 2015, he won the North Macedonian championship during the 2013/2014 season. First assistant to former coach Ljubinko Drulovic, he has led North Macedonia brilliantly since October 16, 2015. He still has 21 wins in 47 matches with the Red Lions. Taking a team last in its qualifying group for Euro 2016 behind Luxembourg, he was able to advance North Macedonia to qualify for the first international competition in its history.
The player to watch: Goran Pandev
We could have evoked the jewel of Napoli Eljif Elmas or Enis Bardhi the free kick taker but no one represents North Macedonia better than Goran Pandev. 37 years old, he is the best representative of his country. Top scorer (36 goals), most selected player (114 capes), captain, he also has his own club in the first division of his country, Akademija Pandev. Serie A scoring player who shone at Inter Milan (winner of the Champions League 2010), Lazio de Rome, Napoli and now Genoa since 2015, he will finally participate in an international competition when time seemed play against him. The good story is that it was he who scored the victorious goal against Georgia in the play-offs which allowed North Macedonia to qualify for Euro 2020. This summer, Goran Pandev will be honored .
The list of 26:
Guardians: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Damjan Siskovski (Doxa Katokopia), Riste Jankov (Rabotnicki)
Defenders: Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb), Visar Musliu (Fehérvár), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkëndija), Kire Ristevski (Újpest), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Ezdzan Alioski (Leeds United)
Environments : Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Enis Bardhi (Levante), Stefan Spirovski (AEK Larnaca), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok), Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Eljif Elmas (Napoli), Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor), Darko Curlinov (Stuttgart), Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev)
Attackers: Goran Pandev (Genoa), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca), Ivan Trickovski (AEK Larnaca), Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly), Krste Velkovski (Sarajevo), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava)