The Euro 2020 tournament has come and gone, but it has continued to generate discussions in the football circle, particularly about the players who shone like a million stars and helped their teams make appreciable progress in the tournament.
AUGUSTINE AKHILOMEN x-rays Completesports.com‘s best 11 Players of the tournament.
Gianluigi Donorumma (Italy)
He capped a superb performance with two penalty saves in the semifinal against Spain and in the final against the Three Lions of England that gave Italy the Euro 2020 trophy. Donorumma also finished the group stage without conceding a goal, a feat that was only matched by England’s number one stopper, Jordan Pickford.
The icing on the cake was when he was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament ahead of other big names at the showpiece. He’s just earned a big move to PSG and will battle to be the number one at a side pushing for Champions League glory.
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Despite coming to the tournament as one of the oldest players (34 years), Bonucci’s experience came so handily when he scored the equalizing goal in the final, during which he nullified the threat of England striker Harry Kane.
His partnership with Chiellini created a solid backline for the Italians and a good cover-up for Donnarumma.
Harry Maguire (England)
After missing the opening two games for England due to injury, the Manchester United defender played a crucial role at the backline. Conceded only two goals from open play throughout the tournament.
The center-back’s 21 aerial duels won put him among the tournament’s leaders in this area, while he was only dribbled past once in his four appearances. Maguire has firmly established himself as a key figure for England.
He also bagged a goal in the 4-0 quarter-final victory over Ukraine.
Luke Shaw (England)
If England had gone ahead to win the elusive trophy with 1-0, Luke Shaw would have been credited or celebrated for the feat for his thunderbolt shot against Italy in the final in the space of 57 seconds. However, the result was not the case as his team lost the final via penalty shootouts.
Christened ‘Shawberto Carlos’ by his teammates after Brazilian star, Roberto Carlos, the England international created many assists in their progress to the final.
Kyle Walker (England)
Walker, with his incredible recovery speed, proved almost impossible to go around and also showed his versatility by slotting into a back three when needed.
Little wonder, Jose Mourinho named him his own player of the tournament.
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Chiellini showed he has plenty left in the tank after helping to shut down some of the world’s top forwards during Italy’s memorable Euro 2020 campaign, notably making numerous interventions just as England threatened to turn the screw in the early stages of the final match.
The art of defending never looked so sweet, as Chiellini and partner Leonardo Bonucci, provided Italy the freedom to push up the pitch knowing that two of the world’s best centre-backs were still performing at the top of their games.
After helping Chelsea to win the UEFA Champions League in May, Jorginho turned his attention to Euro 2020 as he piloted Italy’s midfield with so much confidence and creativity. He was the Italy hero as his last kick against Spain in the semifinals ensured the team booked a final berth.
His missed penalty in the final against England may have cost his team the trophy, but two brilliant penalty saves by Donnarumma saved his blushes. His 25 interceptions is a tournament-high – well clear of N’Golo Kante (14) in second. Not only that, but his 485 accurate passes were the second-highest of any player at Euro 2020.
An 18-year-old Pedri was Spain’s best player at Euro 2020 and signalled new hope for the next generation. After 52 appearances for Barcelona at club level last season.- more than any other player at the club, he was an ever-present and played every minute of his country’s six games.
That performance capped a dominant tournament for Pedri, who led all players for completed passes in the final third (177) and distance covered per match (12.7).
Federico Chiesa (Italy)
He started the tournament from the bench and was always a threat for most defenders each time he got the opportunity to play. Chiesa scored two of the best goals of the tournament, one against Austria in a difficult last 16 tie and another against Spain in the semi-finals.
The Juventus winger was also Italy’s most dangerous player for much of the duration in the final against England until an injury forced him off.
Raheem Sterling (England)
No doubt, Sterling took his game to another level at Euro 2020 despite his ups and downs season with Man City in the Premier League. Sterling earned a space in the front pages of most English tabloids as his solitary goal against Croatia and Czech respectively earned the team qualification to the knockout stages.
He also netted the crucial opener in the historic last 16 clash with Germany and set one up in the rout of Ukraine to underline his status as one of the best. Sterling was the leading scorer for England with three in four games.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Five goals, three from the penalty spot, for the forward that didn’t lack ambition and vigour despite his age and success. Now level with Ali Daei for the record of most goals scored at the international level, he is in the search for more. With numerous talented attacking options available to Santos, the drive and insatiable appetite of Cristiano mean he keeps his place.
The 36-year-old claimed the Golden Boot over Schick by virtue of having more assists to his name. In what could potentially be his last major international tournament, Ronaldo proved he still has plenty left in the tank.