European superstars will take centre stage as the top 24 nations clash in the postponed 2020 Euro.
The likes of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and France’s Kylian Mbappe or Karim Benzema, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, England’s Harry Kane, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Italy’s Ciro Immobile, Germany’s Thomas Muller or Timo Werner, Netherlands’ Memphis Depay, Austria’s Marko Arnautovic or Finland’s Teemu Pukki, can be the stars to watch out for.
Here are the players to look out at EUROS –
Antoine Griezmann (86 caps, 33 goals)
The Barcelona forward is the leader of Les Bleus’ attacking line. More than just a striker, though, Griezmann’s versatility means he contributes creativity as much as goals. He was named Player of the Tournament at EURO 2016 despite France’s loss to Portugal in the final. He is now eager to go one better at Wembley.
Kylian Mbappe (43 caps, 17 goals)
The Paris forward is happier the better the opposition. In between tournaments, France tend to take on sides who sit back and pack the defence and midfield, making it hard for Mbappé to use his strengths. Better sides try to play more and that’s when Mbappé springs into life, lethal on the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo (170 caps, 102 goals)
Europe’s all-time most-capped player and top international scorer, the No7 is Portugal’s captain and leader – and he remains as lethal as ever at 36. The leading scorer in EURO qualifiers is also the finals’ joint-top marksman (sharing that nine-goal record with Michel Platini). He will want to make the record his own at EURO 2020.
Bruno Fernandes (25 caps, 2 goals)
After emerging at Sporting CP, the energetic attacking midfielder has moved up to a new level since signing for Manchester United. With a powerful, accurate shot from distance, and a willingness to create, he was directly involved in 53 goals in his first 61 games for the Red Devils. No surprise that he continues to grow in stature for the national team.
Manuel Neuer (96 caps)
The 34-year-old goalkeeper reached top form again in 2020, and was instrumental as Bayern won the UEFA Champions League. Neuer is Germany’s captain and occasionally acts as their unofficial sweeper as well.
Thomas Muller (101 caps, 38 goals)
Two-and-a-half years after being cut to make room for a rebuild, Germany have recalled Muller, a vocal leader with vast experience at major tournaments. The 31-year-old never fails to transmit his winning mentality to his team-mates.
Peter Gulacsi (36 caps)
The Leipzig goalkeeper became the first Hungarian to appear in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2019-20. A two-times Austrian Bundesliga winner with Salzburg, he has been named Hungary’s Player of the Year on three occasions.
Gareth Bale (90 caps, 33 goals)
The all-time leading goalscorer for Wales, Bale has been the talismanic figure of this team for over a decade. Now 31, his experience in this young squad proved to be invaluable throughout qualifying, while his undoubted ability combined with his commitment and passion for representing his country make him a formidable opponent.
Marek Hamsík (126 caps, 26 goals)
Slovakia’s most-capped international and all-time top scorer remains their most important player. Now 33, the midfielder made his senior debut in February 2007 and captained Slovakia for the first time at 21. He was his country’s main marksman during that trail-blazing EURO 2016 qualifying campaign with five goals.
Robert Lewandowski (116 caps and 63 goals)
Poland’s top international scorer and most-capped player of all time, Lewandowski is also team captain. Widely considered as his nation’s greatest ever player, the 32-year-old Bayern striker has been the fulcrum of this team for some years.
Emil Forsberg (57 caps, 8 goals)
The attacking midfielder often operates from the left wing and is one of Sweden’s primary set-piece specialists. He has been with Leipzig since 2015, a key part of the team’s journey from the German second tier to last season’s UEFA Champions League final four.
Sergio Busquets (122 caps, 2 goals)
The midfield metronome has been a mainstay of La Roja sides since making his debut in 2009 and was a key piece of the jigsaw for their EURO 2012 triumph. With Sergio Ramos missing out through injury, the Barcelona man is Spain’s most experienced player and his calm presence in midfield will be key for their hopes of glory.
Tomas Soucek (30 caps, 4 goals)
The beating heart of the Czech midfield who redefines what it means to have “good feet for a big man”. Czech Player of the Season in 2018/19 as Slavia Praha won the title, and voted the nation’s best player by journalists in 2020, he is providing pace and energy in an impressive West Ham United outfit.
Luka Modric (133 caps, 16 goals)
Croatia’s captain, leader and perhaps their greatest player yet, Modric could be preparing for his last EURO. The 35-year-old midfield genius made his international debut in March 2006, and inspired his side to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in Russia.
John McGinn (29 caps, 7 goals)
Whether it’s snapping into tackles, providing killer passes or popping up with important goals, McGinn sets the tempo and is the beating heart of the Scottish midfield.
Harry Kane (51 caps, 32 goals)
England’s captain and primary source of goals, Kane is a talismanic figure for Gareth Southgate’s side. As deadly as ever in front of goal, the Tottenham striker continues to be the focal point of an England attack full of youthful exuberance.
Raheem Sterling (58 caps, 13 goals)
The Manchester City forward has benefited hugely from the tutelage of Josep Guardiola, improving his movement off the ball while adding composure in front of goal to his considerable threat when running at the opposition.
Goran Pandev (114 caps, 36 goals)
North Macedonia’s captain scored the play-off final winner against Georgia to cement his status as a national hero. A team leader as well as a creative and hard-working left-footed forward, the 37-year-old has great technique and can create goals as well as score them. The Genoa man is both his country’s most-capped player and their all-time leading marksman.
David Alaba (76 caps, 14 goals)
Playing in a more attacking role than he does for Bayern, Alaba has shown coach Foda his versatility many times; his top-level experience is huge for Austria.
Andriy Yarmolenko (92 caps, 38 goals)
Ukraine’s leading active scorer (only Andriy Shevchenko, on 48, is ahead in the all-time standings), Yarmolenko remains his side’s main creative threat despite being short on first-team football at West Ham.
Memphis Depay (54 caps, 19 goals)
Time and time again the Lyon striker has been decisive for the Oranje with goals and assists. He doesn’t always make the obvious choice or favour the easiest option, but there’s no doubt that the Dutch attack is vastly more effective when he’s part of it.
Georginio Wijnaldum (62 caps, 15 goals)
Liverpool’s midfield powerhouse brings elegance, steel, drive and craft to the Dutch engine room. In particular, his almost telepathic understanding with Memphis has yielded great success for the national side.
Artem Dzyuba (47 caps, 26 goals)
The towering striker had to wait until he turned 27 to become a regular for Russia. Soon after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where Dzyuba scored three goals and helped the team qualify for the quarter-finals, he inherited the captain’s armband from Igor Akinfeev following the latter’s international retirement. Now 32, the Zenit forward is still leading Russia’s attack in terms of goals, assists and link-up play.
Kevin De Bruyne (78 caps, 20 goals)
Arguably one of the best players on the planet right now. The stats don’t lie, and Belgium have won 57 of the 78 games De Bruyne has figured in. He has assisted 37 goals, in addition to the 20 he has scored himself in that time.
Romelu Lukaku (89 caps, 57 goals)
Belgium’s all-time top scorer – a record that should stand for a generation or more. He has the ability and physical presence to cause problems to any defence, and might just be the man to win Belgium a title.
Teemu Pukki (87 caps, 27 goals)
Pukki is the player that Finland fans expect to deliver when goals are needed; so often he is able to answer the call. The Norwich City striker, now in his 30s, has developed into more than just a goalscorer and is now a fundamental cog in his country’s attacking play.
Christian Eriksen (103 caps, 36 goals)
Denmark’s creative focal point. Eriksen will only be 29 by the time EURO rolls around but already has more than a century of caps and a whole lot of international experience. He’ll remain vital to Kasper Hjulmand’s plans regardless of any shortage of playing time at club level.
Kasper Schmeichel (60 caps)
Denmark’s long-time goalkeeper has shown himself to have broad enough shoulders to assume his father’s considerable legacy. He is a commanding figure and a world-class keeper who ensures the Danes are always hard to beat when between the posts.
Granit Xhaka (89 caps, 12 goals)
Switzerland’s captain is the brains and the engine in midfield. The 28-year-old, who came through the Basel youth ranks, has been at Arsenal since 2016. A member of the Switzerland team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2009 and part of the squad that finished runners-up at the Under-21 EURO two years later, he already has three senior major tournaments under his belt.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (22 caps)
Filling the huge void left by Gianluigi Buffon was never going to be easy for anybody, but the young AC Milan goalkeeper has already proved that Italy are again in safe hands. A veteran at 21, Donnarumma is already a seasoned international, has kept a clean sheet in half his caps and has never conceded more than one goal. A giant between the posts, he has also markedly improved with his feet and command of his defence.
Nicolo Barella (18 caps, 4 goals)
Roberto Mancini prefers a possession-based brand of football; so far, his decision to use a midfield trio of relatively small but technically gifted players has paid off. Jorginho and Marco Verratti are key cogs in this sense, but Barella has developed into a complete modern midfielder who brings energy, educated feet and timely runs into the opposition box. He has become almost irreplaceable in Mancini’s starting XI.
Cengiz Under (26 caps, 8 goals)
On target in the 2-0 win against France during the European Qualifiers, the Leicester City winger missed much of the campaign through injury – and his pace and technique were greatly missed. Yet he remains a real creative presence and will be hungry to shine at the finals.