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EURO 2020 inside track: North Macedonia

UEFA.com's North Macedonia reporter Igor Panevski dreams the impossible dream.

Meet the teams: North Macedonia

Group C fixtures

13/06: Austria vs North Macedonia (Bucharest)
17/06: Ukraine vs North Macedonia (Bucharest)
21/06: North Macedonia vs Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Team profile

Every goal on North Macedonia's road to EURO 2020

Coach: Igor Angelovski
Captain: Goran Pandev
Nickname: Risovi (Lynxes)
How they qualified: play-offs (2-1 vs Kosovo, 1-0 vs Georgia)
EURO best
: Debutants

Where they could play their knockout games

Round of 16: London, Bucharest, Glasgow or Budapest
: Munich, Saint Petersburg, Rome or Baku
: London
: London 

Final 26-man squad

Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Risto Jankov (Rabotnicki), Damjan Siskovski (Doxa Katokopia)

Defenders: Ezgjan Alioski (Leeds), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkëndija), Visar Musliu (Fehérvár), Kire Ristevski (Újpest), Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi)

Midfielders: Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Enis Bardi (Levante), Darko Churlinov (Stuttgart) , Eljif Elmas (Napoli), Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava), Stefan Spirovski (AEK Larnaca)

Forwards: Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor), Goran Pandev (Genoa), Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev), Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca), Ivan Tričkovski (AEK Larnaca), Krste Velkoski (Sarajevo)

Watch North Macedonia sing anthem

UEFA.com North Macedonia team reporter: Igor Panevski

This is North Macedonia's first EURO and mine as well. Four years ago, as a journalist, I was part of the team that covered the national team's campaign at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland, which was considered a massive breakthrough for football in our country. Now, ten of the players from that U21 squad have taken the step up to the big EURO, and I have joined them.

How they play

North Macedonia's style can change from match to match, with coach Igor Angelovski setting his side up in a variety of formations. His most common tactic is to deploy a 3-5-2 formation, with his wing-backs pushing forward and delivering balls into the penalty area. Without the ball, they switch back to a 5-3-2, with those wing-backs slotting in to shore up the defence.

Key Player: Goran Pandev

Now 37, the versatile Genoa man has just completed his 20th Serie A season, with his powers of creativity, vision and passing undimmed. North Macedonia's captain, top scorer and appearance-record holder, Pandev fired the team to the finals with the play-off winner in Georgia. He has suggested that he will retire after EURO 2020, and he will be sorely missed.

Highlights: Germany 1-2 North Macedonia

Coach: Igor Angelovski

A midfielder during his playing days, Igor Angelovski was named North Macedonia coach in October 2015 after a successful spell in charge of Skopje club Rabotnički: they won a domestic double in 2013/14 and defended the cup title the following season. He has now been in charge of the national team for over 50 games and is the longest-serving North Macedonia coach yet.

One to watch: Eljif Elmas

Earmarked as Pandev's long-term successor as the fulcrum of the national team, the Napoli midfielder has vision beyond his 21 years. A master of distribution who does not shirk the physical side of the game, Elmas is also a clinical finisher. A member of the North Macedonia side that reached the U21 EURO in 2017, he continues to help the national team raise their game.

Can they win it?

North Macedonia finished third in their qualifying group: their highest finish in any of their 13 competitive campaigns since independence. The learning curve they face at EURO 2020 is possibly the steepest of any of the teams involved, but a positive start against Austria could raise their horizons considerably. This side beat Germany not too long ago. Crazy things happen.

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