Euro 2020 group stage best XI: Cristiano Ronaldo leads the line
The group phase of the European Championship ended with some big names fulfilling their expectations, but others came out of the blue.
The first phase of the UEFA 2020 European Championship ended with some big names starring as they were predicted to. There were also some lesser-known names who stood out just as much. The national teams of the Netherlands and Italy arguably shone the brightest, although France and Belgium also showed their potential.
Our team of experts have been keeping a close eye on all the games and, despite much debate and disagreement, here is one ideal eleven that most could accept given what we have seen thus far.
Euro 2020: Group Stage Best XI
Tomas Vaclik (Czech Republic)
Of the goalkeepers given an impressive billing at the Euros (along with the likes of Hradecky, Gulacsi and Dubravka), he is the only one to make it out of the group stage. A crucial element of holding out the Scots in the opener and good saves in the other two games. He will leave Sevilla and there will be plenty of offers for him.
Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)
The right-back is really the flavour of the month, getting up and down the flank and managing to net two goals as a constant threat for the Netherlands. He made his debut under Koeman, but has now made the big breakthrough under De Boer.
Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands)
Two games have been enough to prove his potential. He was absent against Ukraine in the tournament debut and it was noticed, then he came on against Austria and North Macedonia and showed just how high his standards are. Quick of body and mind, with a strong and focused character. This could be his Euros.
Andreas Christensen (Denmark)
His ability to overcome adversity has been enormous, like all the Danish players who picked themselves up after watching their compatriot and friend Eriksen almost lose his life in front of them. He was better as part of a three, as was used after the second match, and he is showing hsi form of late under Tuchel at Chelsea.
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)
Another of the pleasing surprises of the championship, a right-footer playing on the left, he has come into form at the perfect moment, making him almost unstoppable as he aids his side's attacks. Full of self-confidence and strong, he has formed a great partnership with Insigne on the left.
Manuel Locatelli (Italy)
He represents this new, vibrant Italy, a team with good skills throughout and with midfielders of exquisite quality. His performance against Switzerland on matchday two was memorable, crowned with a brace of goals. The Sassuolo man recovers the ball well, gets his head up to play, and gets himself into the danger area.
Giorgino Wijnaldum (Netherlands)
He was able to announce his future would be at PSG during the tournament and has shown the French fans the qualities that Liverpool and his Dutch side have benefitted from over recent years. A liberated midfielder who shields the ball like few others in a defensive capacity and gets himself into goalscoring positions to great effect. Three goals in three games may be more than was expected for him, but he is being used well for the Netherlands, and has a great connection with Depay.
Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)
The Premier League player of the season did not play in the first group game and yet his introduction in the next two games showed just how crucial he is. Against Denmark, in the second game, he changed the face of Belgium, with a goal and an assist just as they looked as though they may be in trouble. He was expected to come back in after his injury in the Champions League final and he has shown little ill effects of the knock.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
After a tremendous start against Russia, his powerful force and skills were also witnessed in the following matches against Denmark and Finland. He is seen by many as the number nine that can fire the Belgians to glory over the coming days, and remains a favourite for the Golden Boot. A firing De Bruyne and a return to form of Eden Hazard the ideal support structure for the nation's goals.
Patrick Schick (Czech Republic)
The goal he scored against Scotland on matchday one went viral, many people still pointing to it as the goal of the tournament, and he has followed it up with two more in the group. The striker may not have the talent around him that others do for their country, but he has certainly shown his threat after a less than convincing time in Germany.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Five goals, three from the penalty spot, for the forward that has no lack of ambition despite his age and success. Now level with Ali Daei for the record of most goals scored at international level, he is on the search of more. With numerous talented attacking options available to Santos, the drive and insatiable appetite of Cristiano means he keeps his place.
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