My soccer facts ⇒ items
Posted by Jonathan Lewis | JULY 21, 2021
Euro 2020 was a showcase for some of the best football talents in Europe. But perhaps the most exciting thing is that the most successful countries in the competition did not have world-class players.
Portugal had Cristiano Ronaldo. Belgium had Romelo Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. France had Pogba, Griezmann and Kyle Mbappe. Portugal had Robert Lewandowski, while Spain was represented by the likes of Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata.
However, none of the above countries won the competition. Instead, Italy took the trophy home after beating England on penalties. However, below are 11 of the top performing players during this year’s Euro 2020.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Italian Gianluigi Donnarumma is now a PSG player, a contract he signed largely because of his heroics during the Euro. At the start of the competition, Donnarumma was a free agent unsure of where he would go after leaving AC Milan.
After seven games, seven important saves, six strokes, three goals conceded and an accuracy of 87%, Donnarumma quickly caught the world’s attention.
At the end of the tournament, the 22-year-old made two important penalty saves and eventually helped his country win the Euro 2020 trophy.
Right-back: Kyle Walker (England)
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker was a man to watch out for during the Euro 2020 tournament. He lived up to the hype. He played six games and completed four tackles. He recovered the ball 40 times and made 15 spaces.
Perhaps the more intriguing reason Kyle deserves this recognition is because he had an 89% fit. Was Walker in your Euro 2020 squad builder? No right-back had better stats than the 31-year-old confirming that he really was part of the tournament’s official Euro 2020 team.
Left-back: Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)
The main reason Italy won Euro 2020 was the team’s incredible defense. The Blues ended the group stage clean and Leonardo Spinazzola added to this great defense.
The Juventus left-back only played 379 minutes in four games but was impressive enough to make it into the top eleven top players at Euro 2020. The 28-year-old completed a tackle, three clears, three blocks and won the ball back 27 times.
Center-back: Maguire and Bonucci: Eng & ITA)
Harry Maguire was arguably the best defender on England’s team. Leonardo Bonucci was also the best central defender of the Italian team. To be fair, John Stones and Georgio Chiellini would have been great followers. They too showed outstanding achievements.
However, despite playing two games fewer than Stones, Maguire had more balls recovered (34), more clearances (10) and more tackles (six). Bonucci, on the other hand, played seven games for Italy in which he had a pass accuracy of 89%.
He also scored a goal for his country in the 67ththe Minute Italy versus England, making him the oldest player (34) to score in this competition.
Midfielders: Jorginho (ITA), Hojbjerg (DEN) and Pedri (ESP)
According to UEFA, Jorginho, Hojbjerg and Pedri were the top three midfielders at EURO 2020.
Without a doubt, Jorginho deserves to start. Despite not scoring a goal, the defending midfielder from Chelsea played his role superbly.
Jorginho played seven games for Italy and completed 705 minutes with a passing accuracy of 93%. Jorginho won the ball 46 times, 11 tackles and completed a distance of 86.6 kilometers.
Tottenhams and Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was a surprise star at Euro 2020. Nobody expected him to impress as he did. However, after six games and 570 minutes, his stats speak well for his performance.
The 25-year-old made nine shots on goal and provided three assists. The 36-year-old retrieved the ball and covered a distance of 64.1 kilometers. The midfielder’s impressive run obviously had a major impact on Denmark reaching the semi-finals in the absence of Christian Eriksen.
Spain wasn’t overwhelming at this year’s Euro 2020. However, some of their players stood out. Pedri, who played six games despite his age of 18, was particularly impressive in midfield.
The Barcelona youngster was also a passer, spreading the ball across the field with a 92% pass accuracy. He never scored or assisted. But for a player his age struggling with passing accuracy and fouls, he has shown that he deserves to be on the team at the tournament.
The top three: Sterling (ENG), Lukaku (BEL) and Chiesa (ITA)
At the beginning of the European Championship, the three favorites in attack positions were Cristiano Ronaldo, Kyle Mbappe and Harry Kane. All three players have proven their worth after scoring 13 goals. But here’s who made the official list:
Nobody is surprised by Sterling’s outstanding performance on the euro. Everyone expected it to shine. And after scoring three goals and an assist, he helped Team England advance to the final.
Depending on who you ask, Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to be in the official top eleven more than Lukaku. He was the tournament’s top scorer (five). So why choose Lukaku over Ronaldo?
The Belgian scored four goals in four games, two with his right foot and two with his left foot. Plus, he scored the four goals in just six tries and helped his country advance to the semifinals.
Federico Chiesa plays both as a midfielder and as a winger. At this year’s Euro he mainly played in the top three. He played in seven games and scored two goals after 17 attempts. Unsurprisingly, fans felt Chiesa didn’t deserve the spot and Patrick Schick, who scored five goals for the Czech Republic, should have been chosen instead.
UEFA has picked a pretty solid line-up for the official team for the EURO 2020 tournament. Most players deserve to be on the list. You probably have your own official squad of the season and that’s fine. The focus now is on seeing how the players who excelled in the European Championship will fare for their individual clubs in the coming season.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer