North Macedonia travel to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands for the first time in more than 12 years as they conclude their Group C campaign.
Article top media content
Eliminated North Macedonia travel to Amsterdam to take on Group C winners the Netherlands for the first time in more than 12 years as they conclude their UEFA EURO 2020 campaign.
• Wins against Ukraine (3-2) and Austria (2-0) mean the Netherlands have already secured first place in the section with a game to spare. Having been beaten by Austria (1-3) and Ukraine (1-2), North Macedonia can no longer reach the round of 16.
• North Macedonia are one of two teams, along with Finland, who are making their finals debut at UEFA EURO 2020; the Dutch have reached the knockout stages for the first time since 2008.
• All four of the teams' fixtures have come in qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. In the 2006 preliminaries, North Macedonia twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at the Skopje City Stadium – now the National Arena Todor Proeski – on 9 October 2004, goals from Goran Pandev (45) and Aco Stojkov (71) quickly levelling strikes from Wilfred Bouma (43) and Dirk Kuyt (66).
• That preceded a goalless draw at the venue for this game – then the Amsterdam ArenA, now the Johan Cruijff ArenA – on 12 October 2005, both teams' final qualifying fixture. Marco van Basten's Dutch side reached the finals in Germany as Group 1 winners, with North Macedonia finishing fifth in the seven-team section with nine points from their 12 matches.
• Bert van Marwijk was in charge of the Netherlands when they faced a North Macedonia team coached by Srečko Katanec in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Pandev was again on target in Skopje on 10 September 2008, although his 77th-minute penalty proved only a consolation goal with earlier strikes from John Heitinga (46) and Rafael van der Vaart (60) giving the visitors a 2-1 victory.
• Van der Vaart scored again in Amsterdam on 1 April 2009, getting the final goal in a 4-0 Netherlands victory with Kuyt (16, 41) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (25) having scored in the first half. Again the Dutch qualified as group winners, recording a maximum 24 points from their eight games with North Macedonia fourth in the five-team section on seven points.
• Pandev has played in all four previous matches between the sides.
EURO facts: North Macedonia
• This is North Macedonia's first final tournament. Before UEFA EURO 2020 they had never finished higher than fourth in their qualifying section for a UEFA European Championship or a FIFA World Cup.
• Igor Angelovski's side were third in Group G behind Poland (25 points) and Austria (19) in their UEFA EURO 2020 section. North Macedonia picked up 14 points from their ten games (W4 D2 L4), level with Slovenia but with a superior head-to-head record despite losing two of their final three matches, away to Poland (0-2) and Austria (1-2).
• North Macedonia qualified for the EURO play-offs having topped their 2018/19 UEFA Nations League section ahead of Armenia, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein, winning five of their six matches (L1) to finish five points clear at the head of the standings.
• Angelovski's team were 2-1 winners at home to Kosovo in the play-off semi-finals, Krste Velkovski's first international goal deciding the contest, before captain Pandev's strike proved enough to win the final in Georgia 1-0.
• Having beaten Israel 1-0 in their final Group G qualifier, those play-off results made it three successive EURO qualifying wins for North Macedonia for the first time.
• North Macedonia are the 35th country to have qualified for the EURO.
• Those two games against the Netherlands are North Macedonia's only previous matches in Amsterdam, where their record is therefore D1 L1 with no goals scored.
EURO facts: Netherlands
• The Netherlands have appeared in nine previous UEFA European Championship final tournaments; they missed out on UEFA EURO 2016, the first time they had not featured in a EURO since 1984.
• Champions in 1988 – their sole major international trophy – the Netherlands finished third at the 1976 UEFA European Championship and also reached the semi-finals in 1992, 2000 as co-hosts and 2004. Their most recent knockout appearance came in 2008, when they lost to Russia after extra time in the quarter-finals.
• On their last EURO appearance, in 2012, a team coached by Van Marwijk finished bottom of a group including Portugal, Germany and Denmark without a point; that made it four consecutive final tournament defeats.
• The Oranje finished fourth in their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying group behind the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey.
• This is the first time the Netherlands have featured in a European Championship or World Cup since finishing third at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
• The Dutch did, however, reach the final of the first UEFA Nations League in 2019, beating England 3-1 after extra time in the semi-finals only to lose 1-0 to hosts Portugal in the final.
• Ronald Koeman's side finished second behind Germany in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying Group C, picking up 19 points from their eight matches (W6 D1 L1). Koeman was replaced as coach by Frank de Boer in September 2020.
• Memphis Depay provided eight assists in qualifying, more than any other player. Having scored six himself, he played a direct role in 58% of the Netherlands' 24 goals. He also opened the scoring against Austria from the penalty spot on Matchday 2 at the finals.
• Having managed ten goals in his first 53 international appearances, Georginio Wijnaldum hit eight in seven qualifying appearances to finish as the Netherlands' top scorer, and opened the scoring in the Matchday 1 defeat of Ukraine.
• The wins against Ukraine and Austria mean the Netherlands' record in Amsterdam overall is now W58 D26 L34. At the Johan Cruijff ArenA, their record is W41 D19 L14, although they have still won just nine of the last 21 matches in the stadium (D2 L10).
Links and trivia
• Darko Velkovski was in the Rijeka team beaten 4-1 at AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League group stage on 29 October 2020. Marco Bizot, Owen Wijndal and Teun Koopmeiners all featured for the Dutch club, the latter opening the scoring from the penalty spot.
• Eljif Elmas came on as a second-half subsitute in Napoli's 1-1 UEFA Europa League draw at AZ on 3 December 2020; Bizot, Koopmeiners and Wijndal again featured for the home side.
• Also on 3 December 2020, Arijan Ademi played 90 minutes as Dinamo Zagreb won 2-0 away to a Feyenoord side whose line-up included Steven Berghuis.
• Although defeated by both Austria and Ukraine, North Macedonia have lost just four of their last 16 matches, winning eight including a momentous 2-1 victory away to Germany in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 31 March.
• North Macedonia's two pre-UEFA EURO 2020 friendlies, both in Skopje, brought a 1-1 draw with Slovenia, in which Eljif Elmas scored for the third successive international, and a 4-0 win against Kazakhstan that featured first international goals for Milan Ristovski – 12 minutes into his debut – and Darko Churlinov.
• Goran Pandev has now made 31 appearances in EURO matches – a record for a North Macedonia player. His goal against Austria enabled him to join Artim Šakiri and Ilčo Naumoski as his country’s joint top scorer in the competition.
• In scoring on Matchday 1, Pandev not only marked his, and his country’s, tournament debut with a goal but also became, aged 37 years and 321 days, the second oldest player, after Austria's Ivica Vastic at UEFA EURO 2008, to score at the EURO finals – and the oldest to find the net in the tournament from open play. It was the North Macedonia skipper's 38th international goal on his 120th appearance.
• Two of Pandev’s 38 goals have been scored against the Netherlands. He has only managed more against one other country, hitting four against Armenia.
• Arijan Ademi and mid-season signing Stefan Ristovski were Croatian double winners with Dinamo Zagreb in 2020/21. They also helped the club reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League, each of them starting all six matches in the knockout phase against Krasnodar, Tottenham and eventual winners Villarreal.
• Other 2020/21 trophy winners in Angelovski's squad are Egzon Bejtulai, a North Macedonia champion with Shkëndija, Kire Ristevski, a Hungarian Cup winner with Újpest, and Krste Velkoski, who also lifted the domestic cup in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Sarajevo.
• The Matchday 2 win against Austria was the Netherlands' seventh in their last nine matches, during which they have scored 26 goals – never less than two in any game.
• Memphis Depay opened the scoring against Austria with his 27th international goal – and fifth from the penalty spot. He has scored eight times in his last nine appearances for the Netherlands and now has three tournament goals, having scored twice – against Australia and Chile – at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
• The Oranje needed a late free-kick equaliser from Depay – his second goal of the contest – to earn a 2-2 draw against Scotland in southern Portugal on 2 June, but their second pre-UEFA EURO 2020 friendly brought a 3-0 victory over Georgia in Enschede four days later, Depay scoring again, with a penalty, before victory was secured in the second half with first international goals from Wout Weghorst and Ryan Gravenberch.
• Jurriën Timber, 19, made his senior debut for the Oranje against Scotland and also started against Georgia and Ukraine, while the game in Enschede brought a first appearance in the Netherlands goal since November 2016 for his Ajax team-mate, Maarten Stekelenburg, who in retaining his place against Ukraine and Austria has become, at the age of 38 years and 268 days, the Netherlands' oldest ever tournament participant.
• Captain Georginio Wijnaldum's goal against Ukraine was his 23rd for the Netherlands, putting him one behind the legendary Marco van Basten, while Weghorst's was his second, in as many games, and Denzel Dumfries's match-winning header his first, on his 20th appearance. Dumfries made it two goals in as many tournament appearances with the Oranje's second against Austria.
• Timber, Stekelenburg, Gravenberch, Daley Blind and Davy Klaassen are all appearing at their home stadium in the group stage of UEFA EURO 2020, having won the Dutch league and cup double with Ajax in 2020/21. Other major trophy winners this year in the Dutch squad are Stefan de Vrij, who won the Italian title with Internazionale, Nathan Aké, a Premier League champion with Manchester City, and ex-Ajax pair Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, who were domestic cup winners with Juventus and Barcelona respectively.
• Stekelenburg is the only member of the Netherlands UEFA EURO 2020 squad with previous EURO final tournament experience. He made one appearance in 2008 – a 2-0 win against Romania – and was the Oranje's starting goalkeeper in all three of their matches – and defeats – at the 2012 tournament.
• Stekelenburg also kept goal for the Netherlands in all seven of their games at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, including the final. Four years later there were six other members of the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2020 squad present at the finals in Brazil – fellow goalkeeper Tim Krul, defenders Blind, De Vrij and Joël Veltman, midfielder Wijnaldum and forward Depay. Veltman was the only one of those five outfield players not to score at the tournament.
• Wijnaldum has started all of the Oranje's last 16 games and made his 50th competitive appearance for his country against Austria. The Netherlands captain recently left Liverpool after five seasons to join Paris Saint-Germain.
• Donny van de Beek was a late withdrawal from the squad through injury. Coach Frank de Boer did not call up a replacement, leaving the Netherlands with 25 players.