Game, phrase, game. We maybe had to wait a year longer for EURO 2020, but in the end it was a tournament that was really worth it. With surprise results, own goals galore and the highest average goal at this tournament since 1976, the spectacular entertainment at EURO 2020 will be remembered for a long time.
Even before the dust settled in the final on Sunday, discussions about the tournament’s individual awards had already come to life when Italy’s impressive goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma received the player of the tournament award. But in order for every player to shine at the tournament, others were disappointed and some of the players expected for their nations during the preparation of the tournament failed to live up to expectations.
With some big names and international superstars faring below that at EURO 2020, it’s time to unveil this summer’s most disappointing XI of football festival.
EURO 2020 – the most disappointing XI
TW: Wojciech Szczesny (Poland)
After a weak 2018 World Cup season, Poland experienced a gloomy tournament for the second time in a row and was eliminated with just one point in their name. Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, one of the most talented and experienced players on the Polish team, was one of many to forget a tournament.
In the team’s opening game, the Slovak Robert Mak managed to push a shot past his narrow post, which was punished with a shot as a Szczesny own goal. It cost his team a lot of money and the goalkeeper was again beaten in his tight spot by Swede Viktor Claesson to finally knock the Poles out of the tournament. Szczesny’s mistakes embodied his team’s poor performance at EURO 2020.
CB: Benjamin Pavard (France)
France’s knockout of the last 16 to Switzerland was one of the biggest shock results in EURO history, a tournament that is summed up in the fact that Les Bleus have conceded six times in just four games.
On the right side of France’s leaky defense, Benjamin Pavard was certainly among the culprits. As one of the groundbreaking stars of the team’s 2018 World Cup triumph, this tournament was almost the complete opposite for Pavard. The Bayern Munich defender was caught in Attila Fiola’s goal for Hungary, and the cross with which Haris Seferovic scored Switzerland’s opener came from the right. The Frenchman then received a hasty penalty in the same game and was very lucky to be saved by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Long regarded as the first choice in Didier Deschamp’s XI, these appearances could endanger Pavard’s place on the team for the future.
CB: Merih Demiral (Turkey)
No team at EURO 2020 fell short of expectations like Turkey, which quickly rose from the dark horses of the tournament to the whip boys of Group A and was sent home after losing all three group games.
Central defender Merih Demiral was at the center of the Turkish disaster. One of the most promising young defenders in Europe, the Juventus man was unwittingly caught by a Domenico Berardi cross in the opening game of the tournament to score an own goal from a corner. Conceding three goals in the last group game against Switzerland crowned a terrible tournament for Demiral and Turkey, in which both his reputation and that of his team suffered shameful damage.
CB: Matthijs De Ligt (Netherlands)
Without star defender Virgil Van Dijk, the Netherlands would always have a relatively difficult time ahead of them at this tournament. In his absence, the young, but highly rated, Matthijs De Ligt should rise, and he survived two relatively straightforward duels against Austria and North Macedonia without any problems.
In Oranje’s round of 16 game against the Czech Republic, however, everything collapsed for De Ligt and his team. After a ball over the top, the youngster slipped and tried to make up for the situation with a mindless handball, which led to a well-deserved red card. It was a moment of madness that cost his team dearly, because the Czechs used their man advantage to win 2-0.
Given his considerable talent, it’s a mistake De Ligt will no doubt learn from, but it was a truly disastrous moment in the young defender’s career.
CDM: Toni Kroos (Germany)
At EURO 2020, Joachim Löw’s 15-year tenure as German national coach ended, although a weak tournament that continued the below-average form of the last three years ensured that it was not the end that Löw had hoped for.
Germany’s knockout of the last 16 against England also meant an unfortunate farewell for midfielder Toni Kroos, who ended his international career shortly after his team’s defeat. Still one of the best midfielders in the world, this was a tournament that Kroos couldn’t quite get a grip on and, above all, had a hard time influencing the game against England, which led to Germany’s elimination.
Kroos has had some spectacular memories over the years wearing the black and white of Germany, but it just wasn’t meant to be this time around.
RM: Thomas Müller (Germany)
Toni Kroos was not the only long runner in Germany to disappoint at EURO 2020, national team icon Thomas Müller also lagged behind the brand.
The days in which Müller scored goal after goal in international tournaments now feel like an eternity as he fought again to fire Germany to victory as in the past. After some rather quiet appearances in the group stage, the striker then missed an absolute sitter late against England, which would ultimately cost his team their place in the tournament.
Amazingly, despite his ten World Cup goals, Thomas Müller has never scored at the European Championships, despite appearing in three EURO tournaments, and it seems unlikely that he will be able to change this undesirable statistic in the future.
CM: Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
Portugal were another nation to drop out and drop out much earlier than expected despite the record breaking goalscoring performances of the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the final, however, some Portuguese stars disappointed, including Bruno Fernandes. Fernandes, who was Manchester United’s talisman for the entire past season, looked like a shadow of himself at the European Championship, delivered anonymous performances against Hungary and Germany and had little influence on the bank against France and Belgium either.
He is sometimes criticized for not showing up in big games, but his performances in that tournament have only made that criticism louder.
CM: Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey)
Much has been said about Turkey’s terrible defensive record at EURO 2020, but the team’s record turned out to be equally dire, with only one goal in the tournament.
All of Turkey’s attacking players did extremely poorly in this tournament, perhaps none more than midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. Calhanoglu, the main creative force on the Turkish team, struggled to make a notable impact at EURO 2020. He did little for striker Burak Yilmaz and contributed little of his own risk of attack.
Two bookings and only one attempt to score summarize the almost anonymity of the midfielder at the tournament.
LM: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Eden Hazard has had a tough time since he swapped London for Madrid two summers ago. The winger struggled with form and fitness during his time in the Spanish capital.
Despite his problems at Real Madrid, the winger is still a star player and Belgium captain and was expected to deliver at the tournament this summer. Unfortunately for him and Belgium, Hazard’s club fights continued on the international stage, with the winger underperforming and not finding the back of the net when the Red Devils were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
During EURO 2020, Eden Hazard was critically overshadowed by teammates Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and even his own brother Thorgan, which could be another key indicator of Hazard’s shocking decline.
ST: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Karim Benzema’s return to the French national team after a six-year absence was seen by many ahead of the tournament as the potential final piece in the puzzle for a team destined to win the trophy. However, while Benzema was thriving, the gates of its surroundings dried up, especially Antoine Griezmann.
The star of France’s stellar six-goal EURO 2016 season hoped Griezmann would show similar form at the tournament, especially after he also played a key role in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph. Instead, Griezmann only hit the net once in the tie against Hungary and missed some excellent chances in that game.
In the knockout round of Switzerland’s humiliation, Griezmann once again didn’t make the difference for his side and, like Hazard, it seems that Griezmann’s poor club form has permeated his performances in the national team.
ST: Kylian Mbappe (France) (C)
While Griezmann disappointed for France this summer, his failure seemed insignificant compared to compatriot Kylian Mbappe, who was undoubtedly the most disappointing player in the entire tournament.
Mbappe, one of the best players in the world and a generational icon of French football, just couldn’t run right at EURO 2020 and missed chance after chance in every game he played, most of which would come from a player of his quality expect would score with ease. In total, Mbappe had 14 shots at the tournament and none of them could find the net.
The young striker’s missed penalty on penalties against Switzerland that eliminated France and shocked the world was a microcosm of Mbappe’s tournament. You certainly expect him to recover and deliver on the biggest stage for France in the not-too-distant future, but this will have been an extremely difficult experience for the 22-year-old that he wants to forget.
Manchester City and England fan. Author of opinions and features on all topics in the Premier League and beyond.