euro 2020 stars

THE PLAYERS EXPECTED TO HAVE THE MOST IMPACT AT THE EUROS THIS SUMMER

The Euros are less than a week away and the excitement to see the top players in the game is at its peak. 24 teams are set to battle it out in the premier European competition, with a whole host of stars set to dazzle the world. From young guns making their competition debuts to veterans looking for one final shot at glory, this summer’s extravaganza is sure to be a treat for all. Some star players at need some more attention from the neutrals.

 

With more than 600 players involved, it will be hard to know who has the most impact for a nation. FootTheBall presents the 10 players that are the ones to watch in this month long competition.

 

The ageless captain of Portugal- Ronaldo is defying the ravages of time with every passing year. The 36-year-old scored 29 goals in Serie A for Juventus, making him the fastest to reach 100 goals for the Old Lady. He was also crucial in the club winning the Coppa Italia and remains one of the most fearsome strikers of all time.

 

Lethal from long range, set pieces, and in the air, Ronaldo will be the talisman for the defending champions once again. He only needs six goals to match Ali Daei’s all-time goals record for a country, and there’s few who will bet against him. Portugal’s most capped player will the key go to man for Fernando Santos as he has been for so many years.

 

That help will be especially required in the tournament’s ‘group of death.’ Partnered with France, Germany, and Hungary, Ronaldo knows he will have to be the centre of the attack. There will be no nerves, however, as this is what the player does best.

 

Speaking from the other side of the age spectrum, Mbappe is already considering the heir to the throne of the Portuguese. At just 22-years-old, the French superstar is displaying all the signs of being able to surpass his idol. Consider his major accolades: a four-time Ligue 1 winner, two-time Ligue 1 Player of the Year, Ligue 1 top goal scorer for three consecutive seasons, Best Young Player at the World Cup (2018), youngest French player to score in a World Cup and the second teenager since Pele to do so in the Final. Phew.

 

The PSG striker is primed to lead the world champions push for the title and has been given extra help. The return of Karim Benzema to the national squad saw Mbappe post excitedly about the potential of that linkup.They also have Antoine Griezman, Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba and a host of other star names in one the competition’s most in-depth squads.

 

Facing Portugal, Germany, and Hungary will be a major challenge in the youngster’s career. However, with his speed, eye for goal and direct running, defenders will find him a real handful to deal with regardless of age or experience.

 

HARRY KANE

The most talented English striker in a generation. Kane has done everything but win a team trophy. Premier League Golden Boot winner? Check three times. Most assists in a season? Check. World Cup Golden Boot? Check. Top ten goals scorers in the Premier League? Sitting in 7th.

 

The Spurs man will once again be carrying the hopes of a nation, having yet another dream of “it’s coming home.” Kane has been the most pivotal attacker for the Three Lions since his arrival and his finishing is second to none on the best of days. He carries the ball well, has amazing vision for passing and is able to compete in the air fairly well.

 

England will be going up against Scotland, Czech Republic and of course, their 2018 heart-breakers- Croatia. This time around, Kane has an array of skillful and talented players to help the cause and they go into the tournament as heavy favourites despite their…ahem, trophy-less years.

 

PEDRI

The youngest of the lot. Pedri has been an ever constant for Barcelona over the past two years. The 18-year-old will be a key figure in the squad setup of La Roja, though he might not be starting immediately. Pedri glides past players with ease and possesses enough skill to pick out the forward runs around him.

 

Though Spain are no longer the super power they were once, this team has makings of a good one. Central to that will be Pedri, who has the ability to play in a variety of roles in the midfield. He is a newcomer to the side having only played four times including their last friendly against Portugal.

 

Pedri came on midway through the second half and finished the match with a passing accuracy of 100% (17 passes) and two recoveries. That is one of the strongest suits of the youngster’s game, as his La Liga percentage stands at 88% along with a 61% tackle success rate. Spain are up against Sweden, Poland, and Slovakia with Pedri likely to feature against all three.

 

MEMPHIS DEPAY

The only hope for a stuttering Dutch side. Memphis is the team’s true talisman, having overtaking the legendary Marco van Basten’s goal tally with his brace against Scotland two days ago. The Lyon attacker scored 20 goals and had 12 assists (most in Ligue 1) as he helped Les Gones finish 4th in the table. Since the retirement of Robin van Persie, Oranje have failed to adequately replace the iconic striker. Memphis is the most obvious choice now; given how he has developed over his in France.

 

He can play across the forward line and frequently drops back into midfield to link up play. Along with Frenkie de Jong and Gini Wijnaldum, the trio will be expected to help the Dutch make a solid return to international tournaments. However, Frank de Boer’s side will have to heavily support Memphis and there are concerns that they are not the most well equipped to do that.

 

Virgin van Dijk is out and first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will also miss the competition, while de Boer himself has been criticized for poor results. They go up against North Macedonia, Ukraine, and Austria with Memphis certainly their most dangerous threat.

 

NICO BARELLA

The best midfielder in Serie A for 2020-21. Barella had his most productive season yet, with three goals and seven assists for the champions. Possessing a passing accuracy of 85% for the season and 67% dribble success rate, Barella will be the linchpin for Italy’s creative flow.

 

Though they are not touted as favourites, Roberto Mancini’s side will quietly fancy their chances of making a deep run.They have not conceded in their last eight games and are undefeated since 2018. Italy have a good mix of youth and veterans which will be key in handling the competitiveness of this year’s tournament.

 

Barella even scored in Italy’s last friendly against Czech Republic and he will have a whole host of frontline stars to aim for. Italy go up against Turkey, Switzerland, and Wales with Barella certain to be a mainstay for the side across all the matches of the tournament. Making his tournament debut, the sky will be the limit for the 24-year-old this summer.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU

‘Big Rom’ is coming to party. The Inter striker has had two lethal seasons in Italy, scoring 24 times and 11 assists this term. That led to him being named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the league, and his form for the Red Devils is even more lethal. He has 59 goals in 92 games, which is one of the best goals-to-games ratio in the international arena.

 

Roberto Martinez’s side go into the tournament as one of the favourites with a host of star names from top clubs. None will be more important when it comes to Lukaku in terms of scoring. The 28-year-old is beast on the ball, mixing pace with strength in an astonishing manner. His aerial prowess is also superb in both boxes which will give Belgium an added defensive presence.

 

They face Denmark, Russia, and Finland and having had an amazing semi-final run in the last World Cup, the Red Devils will surely look to go all the way this time. Though their defence might be a bit suspect, their attack headed by Lukaku can more than make up for it.

 

THOMAS MULLER

The return nobody quite expected. Muller had not played for the national team since the last World Cup. Manager Joachim Loew had stated that he would not bring back the Bayern Munich man. However, a combination of poor results along with Loew’s legacy in serious danger of being soiled if Germany does not do well this summer, prompted the call up of the 31-year-old.

 

Muller tallied 11 goals and 18 assists (highest in the Bundesliga) as Bayern won their ninth consecutive league title. His creative talents and experience will bring some much needed balance to a youthful German side aiming to get over the scars of 2018. Germany are in the proverbial ‘group of death’ and it will need all the help it can get.

 

Loew’s recall of Muller is not quite dissimilar to that of his French counterpart calling on Karim Benzema. Muller reads the game in a brilliant manner and is also very dangerous in the box while playing in behind the main striker. He will look to have a superb campaign for the team and reiterate his importance once again.

 

Wales. Golf. Madrid. Might that be the new order now, Gareth? The infamous flag in 2019 and the debate surrounding it refuses to die down. With his parent club hiring Carlo Ancelotti, who has stated he is eager to work with Bale, the Welshman will be looking to have a fantastic tournament.

 

He inspired Wales to their first ever semi-final run in 2016 and will look to replicate that form this time around. Bale’s year at Spurs went decent enough with 11 goals and two assists, including a brace in his last match. Though Wales were blanked 3-0 in their latest friendly against France, interim boss Robert Page will hope to have a much improved tournament proper.

 

They go up against Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey with a top-two finish very much achievable. One thing’s for certain, their all-time leading goal scorer and captain will be the key for all good things that come up. Speaking of record makers…

 

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

41 goals in 29 games. Yes, you are not reading it wrong. 41 goals in less than 30 matches, enroute to breaking Gerd Muller’s four-decade old record in the Bundesliga and winning the European Golden Boot for the first time. The Polish hitman averaged 60 minutes in between goals while 59% of all his shots were on target.

 

Few players will be as crucial for their countries as the 32-year-old Lewandowski will be. He is renowned for being able to take shots from all distances and angles, while also competing strongly in the air.

 

Poland will go up against Sweden, Spain, and Slovakia in one of the more open groups at the tournament. They managed to reach the quarter-finals last time around and with Lewandowski in such lethal form, there can be no surprise if they manage the same feat once more.

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