As we have reached the climax of the Euros, I have decided to take a backwards step and recap the stand out performers in the tournament. Plenty of individuals impressed, others flopped. Here are just a few players that shone in the Championships.
Vaclav Pilar/Czech Republic
Now I will admit, I knew absolutely nothing about this guy before the competition kicked off. But by has he made a mark on me. He’s a roar talent, and is still learning at 23, but he’s a joy to watch as he plays without fear. Dangerous on the left, where he was used for Czech Republic, or on the right – the Wolfsburg winger needs no persuading to run at his man. Fast, sharp and always vibrant. Was one of his country’s stand out performers in their progression from the group stages to the quarter-finals.
Krohn-Dehli really surprised me with his displays for Denmark. In the first match, the Ajax midfielder was a real menace, and gave the Netherlands backline lots of problems to deal with. He scored the only goal in that game, to secure a 1-0 win for his side. And what a goal it was, as he produced a magical run and splendid finish which set him on his way to go and net against Germany in the final group stage encounter. Linked up efficiently with striker Nicklas Bendtner, and stole the limelight from fellow Ajax and Danish star Christian Eriksen.
Yet another winger who really made an impression on me. I can certainly see why he is dubbed the “Ukranian Messi” in his homeland. A slight overuse of hyperbole, maybe, but nonetheless he put in some dazzling performances as he, and Ukraine’s other winger Andriy Yarmolenko, were top class. Blessed with incredible speed, vision and balance, I would not be shocked if a Premier League outfit were to come sniffing in the summer transfer window. Has a big future ahead of him.
After the England – France match, basically all half of my news feed was clogged up with comments on France’s right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who was sensational. And he followed it up with a series of other impressive games. I’m sure I am not the only one who liked what I saw from the Lille defender, who Newcastle are reportedly chasing. He’s quick, can get forward and has the energy to track back. Started brilliantly, and kept it up. Very consistent throughout, and has potential to overtake Bacary Sagna, who is currently out injured, in the national team.
Some will disagree with this. Yes, he struggled towards the end of the group stages, as did most of the Dutch team in all honesty. Thomas Muller, of Bayern Munich, have him a good run for his money when the Germans faced Holland, but Willems coped fairly well overall and had a very credible tournament. The 18-year-old, who after starting against Denmark in the group’s opener to become the fourth youngest player to play for Holland and youngest ever player to feature at the European Championships, possesses good recovery pace, crossing ability and can also fill in at right-back. At only 18, he can go a long way.