Euro 2020: BraggsSports has put together the 24 key players from each team going into the Euro 2020 tournament in Italy
Despite the global pandemic which slowed down everything since 2020, things have improved enough in recent months to have the tournament played this June and July. And with fans in the stands to sweeten the deal.
We at BraggsSports have break down each of the six groups into teams and their key player.
Nicolò Barella (Italy)
Barella was one of the best players in Serie A this season en route to winning the league’s best midfielder award. Since Inter crashed out of the Champions League early in the competition, he may not be a household name around the continent yet. However, this could be his time to explode onto the international scene and show why he’s arguably the Azzurri’s best outfield player.
Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
After the Swiss midfielder was recently linked with a move to the Giallorossi, Xhaka’s name has been spoken often in Roma circles. Xhaka ranked in the top 90 percentile in Europe’s five big leagues this season in passes attempted, completion percentage, and progressive passes while playing for Arsenal. If he has that kind of success for his national side, he could help the Swiss unlock a stout Azzurri defense.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Turkey)
Turkey boasts a handful of Serie A talents including Roma’s Cengiz Ünder and Juve’s Merih Demiral. However, Çalhanoğlu, Turkey’s danger man, was one of the most dangerous creative players in Europe’s top five leagues over the last calendar year. While playing for Milan he had 5.76 shot-creating actions per 90 while dishing out nine assists and completing 5.63 progressive passes per 90. He can also strike a dangerous free-kick. Opposing defenses will have to lock him down to slow down the Turks.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale is the face of Welsh football. After a disappointing 2019-20 season at Real Madrid, Bale returned to Tottenham in 2020-21. This season, Bale scored better than a goal per 90 minutes (1.08) in just 920 minutes for Spurs. Even at 31-years-old, Bale is still a danger to any defense and could carry the Welsh to an upset of any of the other sides in this group.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Belgium has plenty of talent. However, Lukaku was recently awarded the Serie A season MVP after scoring 24 goals and providing 11 assists for Inter, making him the easy pick. Lukaku has to be on the shortlist for Golden Boot candidates, especially if Belgium makes a deep run as expected.
Simon Kjær (Denmark)
Cristian Eriksen would be many people’s picks here after his second-half turnaround with Inter. However, I’m looking at the Rossonero half of the San Siro at Kjær for this one. Lukaku is the best player in this group and it’ll be up to the veteran Dane to slow him down. It’s a tough ask, but Kjær is coming off a superb season for Milan. The personal Derby della Madonnina should be one to keep an eye on.
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Aleksei Miranchuk (Russia)
Miranchuk made a January move to Atalanta from Lokomotiv Moscow and immediately rewarded La Dea’s investment. Miranchuk was one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders after his arrival and ranked highly in many attacking categories per 90 minutes in just under 700 minutes played in Serie A. If he can carry that form onto the international stage, his star will grow outside of Bergamo.
Jesse Joronen (Finland)
The Finns don’t have any household names, but Joronen comes close—for Serie A fans anyway. The Brescia keeper has Serie A experience and actually performed admirably on last season’s relegation-bound side. Joronen outdid his PSxG by five, and he’ll likely see plenty of shots in this group. So, for the Finns to have any chance, he may have to perform in a similar manner.
Stefan De Vrij (Netherlands)
With less attacking talent than past tournaments, the Dutch will probably have to be a bit more defensively sound. And with Van Dijk out, the onus falls on Inter’s De Vrij to lead the Dutch backline. The biggest test for him and his compatriots will likely be against Ukraine.
Ruslan Malinovsky (Ukraine)
Malinovsky is one of a handful of players on Ukraine’s roster to play outside of their homeland and he was an absolute revelation for Atalanta this season. Since his move last summer, Malinovsky’s numbers per 90 are among the best for attacking midfield players in the big five leagues. His eight goals for La Dea were impressive, but the rate at which he used his progressive passing and progressive carrying to contribute 12 assists was truly impressive.
Marcel Sabitzer (Austria)
RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer drew rave reviews after his side defeated Tottenham in the 2019-20 Champions League. He didn’t have as strong of a season in ‘20-’21. But, on a side lacking star power, Sabitzer will have to play well for Austria to have attacking success.
Goran Pandev (North Macedonia)
North Macedonia doesn’t have many household names, but Genoa’s Pandev and Napoli’s Elif Elmas will be familiar to Serie A fans. Pandev has been plying his trade on the peninsula since 2003 and despite being 37, he still managed to score seven league goals. As the veteran goes, so will his national side.
Harry Kane (England)
On an English side chock full of talent, Kane is the biggest star. The Tottenham striker had a mind-blowing season, wracking up 23 goals and 14 assists in the Premier League alone. If he can continue that form in the Euros, then the Three Lions will be tough to beat.
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Luka Modric (Croatia)
Even at the advanced age of 35 Modric remains a consistent force in the Croatian midfield. This season Modric played over 2,700 league minutes for Real Madrid— the highest total in his nine seasons in the Spanish capital. Modric’s ability to dictate play from the center of the park with his vision and passing could be the key for Croatia.
Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)
After a disappointing spell with Roma, Schick has found his footing in the Bundesliga the last two seasons. In this campaign, Schick scored nine goals in 1,866 minutes for Bayer Leverkusen after putting up 10 in 1,298 for Leipzig the previous season. They’re not mind-blowing numbers, and Schick may never be the star Roma fans hoped he could be, but the Czechs will need him scoring to get out of this group.
Scott McTominay (Scotland)
Scotland lacks headline talent and McTominay is its most recognizable face. The Manchester United midfield will be tasked with trying to slow players like Modric, Declan Rice, and other stars in this group. It’ll be a big ask, but he’s going to have to hold his own for Scotland to have a chance at getting results.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Lewandowski is probably the world’s premier goal scorer at the moment. He’s coming off a 41 goal campaign for Bayern Munich in just 29 Bundesliga appearances. If Lewandowski is hot then Poland will be a threat.
Milan Škriniar (Slovakia)
Serie A fans will be familiar with a few names on the Slovak side including former Napoli captain Marek Hamšík. However, Škriniar will be key for Slovakia. The Inter Milan man will be tasked with stopping Lewandowski, Alvaro Morata, and whoever Sweden starts in Ibra’s absence.
Ferrán Torres (Spain)
Spain is ushering in a new generation of talent as just Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets remain from the Golden generation. Torres, who scored seven goals for Man City this year, may be the best of the new generation. For the national side, he’s got six goals in 10 appearances including a hat trick against Germany in a Nations League match. Torres could be poised for a breakout tournament.
Mattias Svanberg (Sweden)
With Zalatan Ibrahimovic ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury, we have to look elsewhere on the Swedish side. I’ll point to young midfielder Svanberg. The 22-year-old scored five goals and provided two assists for Bologna this season. Sweden will likely need to score some goals by committee with Zlatan out and Svanberg has shown the ability to do that from the midfield this season.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
At just 19 years old, Mbappe was the revelation of the 2018 World Cup when he scored four goals for trophy-winning France. Since his move to PSG, he’s scored goals for fun, including 27 this season while also dishing out seven assists. His pace and scoring ability will be deadly to most sides in this tournament.
Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
Kimmich has grown into one of the best central midfielders and a key cog in the Bayern Munich machine over the past few seasons. Kimmich will have to dictate play with his progressive passes (8.82) and carries (8.26), and shot-creating actions (4.88) which rank among the highest rates per 90 for midfielders in Europe’s big five leagues for Germany. Die Mannschaft has shown vulnerability the last few years and will need Kimmich at the top of his game in this difficult group.
Willi Orban (Hungary)
Orban, 27-year-old center-back, has blossomed in recent seasons with RB Leipzig. In 2020-2021, Orban emerged as a genuine dual-threat defender for the Bundesliga club, racking up four goals and one assist while making 29 starts in the middle of defense.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Ronaldo may be getting up there in age, but he’s proving to be timeless as he continues to pile up the stats. He enters this tournament tied with Michel Platini for the most Euro goals all-time with nine. Expect Ronaldo to be hungry to break that record and defend Portugal’s title. As Ronaldo goes, so does Portugal.