The Best Players at the Euros

With Italy beating England in the Euro finals on 12th July 2021, they officially claimed their second Euro title and it was very well deserved. Italy have had an amazing comeback from not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to winning the Euro 2020. From incredible comebacks to nerve wracking penalties, these Euros were very entertaining. Today, I will be sharing with you all who I felt were the best players at the tournament at each position – goalkeeper, defense, midfielder and attack.

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford (ENG)

Jordan Pickford had an incredible tournament with England, coming second and at the same time silencing all the critics who were unsure of his place in the tournament. Southgate did play a naturally defensive lineup with the English squad, normally playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rice and Phillips as defensive midfielders and this showed with England not conceding a single goal until the quarter finals. Many people would say because of the formation and mindset of the team goals were not scored, but the fact is that Pickford also had the most saves in the tournament (16) followed by Thibaut Courtois and Gianluigi Donnarumma. At the same time, Pickford had the most clean sheets (5) and the least goals conceded (2). Pickford has proved himself to be a top-notch goalkeeper and has rightfully won the Euro 2020 Golden Glove by topping every defensive chart.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Thibaut Courtois (BEL)
  2. Gianluigi Donnarumma (ITA)
  3. Yann Sommer (SWI)

Defender – Luke Shaw (ENG)

Luke Shaw was an impeccable player on the attack as well as defense this year for England. Southgate played Shaw as a wingback/LM and he fitted the position so very well. With the most assists in the tournament as well as scoring a goal, Shaw was one of the most successful defenders on the attack side with great decision making and I felt he utilized his speed very well to get past players. On the defensive side as well, Shaw was like a brick wall and he made 9 tackles and 8 clearances. This showed in England’s defense where they only conceded 2 goals throughout the whole tournament. All in all, Shaw was a great player and has proved himself to be a key player to the English side for the next few years. If England had won the Euros, I might have even gone far enough to call him the best player of the tournament.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Harry Maguire (ENG)
  2. Joakim Maehle (DEN)
  3. Leonardo Bonucci (ITA)

Midfielder – Marco Verratti (ITA)

Marco Verratti is the definition of a midfielder. He was an integral part of the Azzurri and even after missing out on the first 2 games of the tournament, he made his presence felt immediately by becoming one of the most creative playmakers on the field. A midfielder helps the team retain possession and set up wingers with great passes. This is exactly what Verratti did. With an incredible 93% passing accuracy (401/425 passes), Verratti gave way for wingers like Insigne and Chiesa to go up the wing and attack effectively. At the same time, he assisted thrice for Italy showing great vision and maturity on the field by finding space for good plays. Defensively as well Verratti was of great help by making 30 tackles and recovering 32 balls. Tackling is so important for a midfielder because it can change the pace of the game immediately and give great chances for counter attacks. Overall, I felt that Verratti played an extremely composed game and, in my opinion, be the best player at the tournament for the sheer effort he put in the attack as well as defense.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Jorginho (ITA)
  2. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (DEN)
  3. Steven Zuber (SWI)

Forward – Patrik Schick (CZE)

For me, Patrik Schick was by far the most underrated player in the tournament. From scoring arguably the greatest goal in Euro history to beating the Netherlands in the round of 16, Czech Republic and Patrik Schick have had a historic tournament. The 25-year-old striker from Bayer Leverkusen was the joint top scorer of the tournament along with Cristiano Ronaldo. Unfortunately, Ronaldo has been given the Golden Boot of the tournament which I feel Schick should have been given since 3 of Ronaldo’s 5 goals were penalties *sad Bruno Fernandes noises*. Nevertheless, Schick was an integral part of Czech Republic’s success having some role in 83% of all of the country’s goals which is really impressive. He also had the most shots on target in the tournament. I felt he was very effective in aerial duels and his natural style of play leaned toward quick, short passes. Seeing him in the games I saw that he was very productive in doing layoffs, flick ons and short passes. This style really increased the pace of the game and also confused the defense a lot. Schick has a very bright future ahead of him and maybe should lean towards going to a team which plays more tiki taka since it suits his style.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
  2. Harry Kane (ENG)
  3. Raheem Sterling (ENG)

Thank you for reading! Please let me know down in the comments who your best player was.

Euro Group of Death Predictions

As the Euros come closer, everyone is keen to see how Group F, or nicknamed the Group of DEATH, pans out. The group consists of France, Germany, Hungary, and Portugal. The group consists of World Ranking #2 (France), World Ranking #5 (Portugal), and World Ranking #12 (Germany) all going against each other. It is going to be the most entertaining group. Here are my predictions, and I must say they are quite controversial. I have also included playing 11s that I would play.

4. Hungary

Seeing the group, it is quite clear why I am putting Hungary in the bottom of the table. They are a good team but just compared to other teams in the group, I do not think they will make it. Lots of players have been in quite good forms. I feel their attack is quite impressive. Janos Han, the striker from Paksi FC has scored 24 goals and given 5 assists in his 31 appearances and the Nemanja Nikolicks playing for Fehérvár has scored 22 goals and made 5 assists in his 40 appearances. Attack is solid and they have a lot of great options as well. For the center forward position there is Filip Holender, Nemanja Nikolicks, Adam Szalai, and Janos Hahn; for left wing you have Kevin Varga, Szabolcs Schon, and Tamas Cseri; and for right wing you have Roland Sallai and Roland Varga. They are all in relatively good forms and this range of attacking options gives various ways to play up forward

On the other hand, I do feel their defense is lacking a little bit with less variety. In fact, I do not even see a playable left back in the squad so I think Rossi will be playing a more attacking side with 3 in the back maybe. This may not be the most viable option against the other teams’ strong attack. The main reason I see for this team not prospering in the group is the simple fact that the quality of players is not nearly there as teams such as Germany, Portugal and France. There are only a few player coming in from the top leagues in Europe like the Bundesliga and Premier League and so we have not really see all the player play against opponents in these top leagues

3. France

This is a very controversial opinion but yes, I feel France will be finishing third in this group due to the very fact of their midfield. Yes, I know their midfield looks amazing. Kanté has just won the Champion’s League, United have had a good season with Pogba playing a vital role, and Rabiot has also had a decent season. But I just don’t see it. Pogba and Kanté are going to be a definite key in the squad but the third midfielder will be tricky to choose. The remaining options are Rabiot, Tolisso, and Sissoko. Lemar has been included in the squad but he has a muscle injury and his return is unknown and this is a big blow to the midfield because I think he would have been the perfect fit as an attacking midfielder in a more defensive setting. I know stats are not everything but if you take a look at them, Kanté only has 3 assists and no goals in his 48 appearances for the club. Of course, being a defensive midfielder, he played insanely well talking in tackling percentage and honestly, I think he is a serious Ballon D’or contender. Pogba also has 6 goals and 9 assists in his 42 appearances for United which is good but we all know his potential.

Other than the midfield the rest of the squad is looking really good and I am especially excited to see the attack. Benzema looks like he has gone back to his prime scoring 30 goals and 9 assists in his 46 appearances. Mbappe as usual has been playing extremely well with 42 goals and 11 assists in his 46 appearances for the club. I honestly feel he is the best player on the squad right now and has to start every game. There are some very underrated players that I would like to see being played like Jules Koundé from Sevilla playing in the back but with the options of Varane, Kimpembe, Zouma and Lenglet I really do not think he will get a chance. The defense is very strong in my opinion and for each position you have at least 2 top notch players. Another player who I would want to see being played is Marcus Thuram, the Left Winger from Borussia Mönchengladbach. In the left, I see either him or Kingsley Coman playing and both have had similar stats throughout the season but Thuram does not have as much experience as Coman which is why I would want to see him being played

2. Germany

Probably one of the most controversial choices, but yes, I have predicted Germany to be runners up in this group of death mainly due to their midfield options. I feel midfield is the most important part of a squad since they allow for creating and controlling the tempo of the game and are in charge of creating chances and starting crucial possessions. This is the main reason why I have put them on top of France because there is no point of having a very strong attack when your midfield cannot create the chances for the attack to perform.

Just look at the midfield of Germany, as a defensive midfielder there is Kimmich who is playing so so well this season and is in the top 2 best defensive midfielders in the world right now in my opinion. Kai Havertz has been in good form this season and has just won the Champion’s League for Chelsea. His youth and experience provide so much opportunity for a wide range of tactics for Flick to deploy. At the same time, to complement his youth, you have the experience of the likes of Toni Kroos with over 100 appearances for the country. A very underrated player on the squad is Ilkay Gundogan who has had a very good season with Manchester City, winning the Premier League with 17 goals and 5 assists in his 46 appearances for his club which is amazing for a midfielder. Along with these players you have the likes of Emre Can, Jamal Musiala (who I am very excited to see), and Neuhas as options. This variety makes them a very strong side. Unfortunately Leon Goretzka has been injured and his date of return is unknown and this may be a blow to the midfield

On the other hand, I feel that the attack of Germany is a little weak compared to the other teams in the group. Although they have a lot of great options, I feel Flick is going to play only 2 up front and I feel Werner should be up there. Werner has had a decent season with 12 goals and 15 assists for Chelsea in 52 appearances which is quite good but not the best. I am not very sure who the second striker would be but I have a feeling it would be Gnabry who’s not had the greatest of seasons with 11 goals and 7 assists in 38 appearances but they do have options like Muller, Sané, Hofmann, and Volland. I do think Kevin Volland should be given a chance since he has played well with 18 goals and 8 assists for Monaco in 40 appearances but let us see what Hansi Flick decides to do.

1. Portugal

This was a very tough choice but yes, I feel that Portugal will come out on top of the group and I honestly feel they have high chances of winning the tournament too (P.S. I am not a Ronaldo fanboy, I’m supporting Spain in the Euros 😊 don’t come @ me haha) The amount of depth along with the quality of players is just unmatchable. At the same time, they have combinations of youth and the experienced with the likes of young gems like Joao Félix and Pedro Goncalves getting the chance to play with great experienced players such as Cristiano Ronaldo. He will only make them better. Starting from the attack, this side has so many options who have been playing well such as Diogo Jota, the Liverpool winger who has scored 13 goals and given an assist in only 30 appearances for the club. Andre Silva, the forward from Frankfurt has also been having a great season and can always play as a substitute for Ronaldo. I feel it is a must for Félix to play since under the mentorship of one of the greatest players to play he will truly shine. Speaking of this great player, Cristiano Ronaldo has had an incredible season with Juventus scoring 36 goals and assisting 4 times in just 44 appearances. At the age of 36, stats like these are truly remarkable

The midfield is no less impressive with a very deadly combination of attacking midfielders of Bruno Fernandes who has scored 28 goals and assisted 17 times in 58 appearances and Bernardo Silva who has the quality to play very well although his stats are less impressive with 5 goals and 9 assists in 45 appearances for Manchester City. I still do feel he played a key role in their success. This combination is going to provide so many chances for the attack and also set a very fast paced tempo, since there will be more focus on attack. Along with these key players, Portugal have so many options to play in the midfield ranging from defensive midfielders like Rúben Neves, Danilo Pereira, Joao Palhinha (who is another person I am excited to see), and William Carvalho to center midfielders like Renato Sanches, Sérgio Oliveira, Joao Moutinho, and Rafa Silva. Fernando Santos really needs to play his cards right in choosing 3-4 midfielders to play since he has been given a gold mine of midfielders

Portugal’s defense is also looking strong with Rúben Dias looking to head it. He has had such a good first season with Manchester City, winning the Premier League Player of the Year and has really upped the defense of Manchester City. I look forward to seeing him do the same for his country. At the same time, I feel the other 2 options for center backs – Fonte and Pepe – are quite old but experienced but let us see if they can keep up with the fast-paced attitude Portugal hope to keep. I would like to see Nuno Mendes, the 18-year-old left back from Sporting CP, play as well since he really looks like he has a bright future

These are my Euro predictions for Group F. This group has so many quality teams, anything can happen and the tournament looks to be very interesting with such groups and match ups. Please let me know down in the comments what your predictions are and how they are different from mine. Thank you for reading!

Euro Predictions: Group A

As you all know, the UEFA Euros are set to start soon from 11th June and this tournament is arguably the most prestigious international tournament after the FIFA World Cup for European countries. It provides an opportunity for nations to show their worth against opposing teams and also experiment with younger players and tactics in order to prepare for future games. Group A consists of Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales. I have also decided to add playing 11s for each country that I think will be their best squad in my opinion

4. Wales

It may be a surprise putting such a promising team dead last but I honestly feel the lack of experience in the squad may be their bane. The squad is quite young with most players playing around 10-15 games. Experienced players in the squad such as Chris Gunter’s performance have relatively declined and players in good form are too inexperienced. This sort of imbalance would not be very fruitful for them. Furthermore, key players of the team such as Ben Davies and Joe Allen are injured with a shinbone injury and hamstring injury respectively. The return of these players is uncertain and is a big blow to the team.

At the same time, few players are in very good form and I am quite interested in seeing how this young and old mixed attacking squad will play together. I really want to see how Tyler Roberts, the young Leeds striker plays with Bale on the right and Daniel James on the left. Harry Wilson is also in great form and I would love to see Giggs play him. The pace on the wing is incredible and the team is indeed very exciting but compared to other experienced teams such as Italy and Switzerland I think they won’t be able to succeed.

A Welsh squad which I want to see being played

3. Turkey

So I have been reading in a lot of places and Turkey seem to be the dark horse of the tournament with many gems in the squad and I completely agree. Soyuncu has been in incredible form, winning the FA Cup recently with Leicester and in my opinion the best player on the squad right now. The midfield trio of Calhanoglu, Kokcu and Tufan also look very dangerous and they have all been playing consistently well.

I think their weakness lies in the attack. With the likes of Akturkoglu, Under, Akbunar, Yazici, Unal, Dervisoglu, Yilmaz and Karaman I feel they have too many strikers playing really well and as the saying goes ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ I have a feeling that Turkey will play too much of an attacking team and that will backfire against them. I may be completely wrong but I have a gut feeling. Furthermore, I am certain that Turkey will play Under because of all the hype around him right now and Leicester’s success but he has been having a really poor season with 19 appearances for the club in all competitions and only 2 goals and 3 assists. I would really want to see Halil Akbunar, the winger from Goztepe, play instead of Under since he has been having a great season with 10 goals and 14 assists in his 42 appearances for the club. Unfortunately I do not think he will be getting the minutes he deserves. This placing has completely been done over gut feeling and I really want to see Turkey prove me wrong.

A Turkish squad which I think will play the best

2. Switzerland

I believe Switzerland will have a fruitful result out of this group mainly due to the experience on the side. Switzerland has much more chemistry than most of the teams on the group with the likes of Shaqiri, Sommer, Schar, Ricardo Rodriguez, Xhaka, Mehmedi, and Seferovic playing over 50 games representing the country. The chemistry between the players is, in my opinion, the best by far in Group A. Furthemore, the likes of Kevin Mbabu, Remo Freuler, Manuel Akanji and Seferovic have been having great seasons at VfL Wolfsburg, Atalanta BC, Borrusia Dortmund and SL Benfica respectively. This team is not to be messed with.

However, most players have been having really poor seasons and in fact, while making the team it was really tough since I could find very less players who were playing comparatively well. The experienced players as I mentioned like Yann Sommer, Fabian Schar, and Xherdan Shaqiri did not play well this past season yet due to their importance on the team, they will have to be played. Take Shaqiri for example; Liverpool have not had the greatest season and even worse, Shaqiri has only scored 1 goal and given 4 assists in his 22 appearances for the team. Players like this really need to roll up their socks due to their importance in the squad

My Swiss 11

1. Italy

Surprise, Surprise who would have thought 🙂 Italy are the favourites to top the group and I completely agree. The quality of players in the squad are just insane and the range of options they have for each position is top notch. Bastoni, Di Lorenzo, Barella and Pellegrini are just some of the players who have been in great form through the season. The team has a great mix of experienced players as well as new comers which provides a range of tactics for Mancini to deploy. You have players like Chiellini and Bonucci who have more than 100 caps each for Italy, you have Immobile, Insigne, Verratti and Florenzi who have around 40 appearances for the country, and then you have young talents like Chiesa, Bastoni and Locatelli who are new to the squad. This combination is a dream. The range of players for each position is absolutely amazing. Take right wing position for example. You have Chiesa, Berardi, Politano, and Bernadeschi all available to play. 4 quality players in one position is incredible and I am really interested to see how Mancini is going to make use of all these players and who is going to shine

I do feel Italy are lacking a bit on the attack side. Striker-wise Italy only have Immobile and Belotti who have not been having the greatest season so far. Belotti has only scored 13 goals and given 7 assists in his 36 appearances for Torino FC. Immobile has played decent but we all know he can play so much better. A big blow to the squad is also Verratti’s knee injury. Sources say he will be able to return by June 21 which basically means he will miss the group stage completely. This is a big blow to the midfield but I think they have enough options to replace him

An Italian squad I would love to see (What no Bonucci or Chiellini!)

So these are my predictions for Group A. Please let me know down in the comments what your predictions are for this group and how they differ. I will try to upload all my group predictions before the Euros start. Thank you for reading!