EURO 2024: 5 Players Who Must Do A Better Job In Knockout Rounds


After 36 action-packed group-stage fixtures over two breathless weeks, the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024) is set to enter the knockout stages. The journey to the EURO 2024 Round-of-16 was remarkable, with some players leaving their all on the pitch to push their team past the first hurdle. However, not every top player lived up to expectations over the three group-stage Matchdays. They either misfired in front of goal or made costly mistakes that hurt their side.

Before we devote all our attention to the Round-of-16, let’s check out the most notable underperformers from the group stage. Here are the top five players who must do a much better job in EURO 2024 knockouts.

#5 Antonio Silva – Portugal

Antonio Silva Was One Of The Worst Performers In EURO 2024 Group Stage
Antonio Silva Made 2 Costly Mistakes Against Georgia

After making a brief seven-minute cameo in Portugal’s 3-0 victory over Turkiye, highly rated young center-back Antonio Silva got the opportunity to make his full EURO 2024 debut in the Matchday 3 clash against Georgia. Unfortunately, Silva failed to make the most of the prospect, making two costly mistakes that allowed Georgia to claim a 2-0 victory.

In the second minute, he made a mess of a clearance, passing the ball straight to Georges Mikautadze, allowing him to set up Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Then, in the 54th minute, he brought down Luka Lochoshvili inside the box, awarding Georgia a penalty. Mikautadze dispatched a cool spot-kick to double the underdogs’ advantage.

Having already won their group, Portugal did not have anything riding on the game. However, they surely would have wanted to avoid defeat or even possibly become the second team, after Spain, to win all three of their group-stage fixture. Silva’s blunders not only denied them the opportunity, but they might have also ended the defender’s chances of playing a starring role in the knockout rounds.

#4 Virgil van Dijk – Netherlands

Virgil van Dijk Has Been Below His Best In EURO 2024
Virgil van Dijk Had A Game To Forget Against Austria

Arguably the best center-back in the world, Liverpool and Dutch ace Virgil van Dijk has had a mediocre tournament by his lofty standards. He looked decent in the 2-1 victory over Poland and the goalless draw with France. However, he was all over the place in the 3-2 defeat to Austria on Matchday 3.

The 32-year-old failed to mark Austria’s pacey attackers, losing them twice in the second half. In the 59th minute, Florian Grillitsch swung in a fine cross into the area, which Romano Schmid nodded home. Van Dijk, despite his physical superiority, could not block the delivery. He also lost track of Marcel Sabitzer for the winner, allowing the former Manchester United man to open up space on the left side and smash home from a tight angle. Given Van Dijk’s quality, he should have been there to block the midfielder’s path.

#3 Phil Foden – England

Phil Foden Has Struggled For England
Phil Foden Has Not Played His Best Game In EURO 2024

Manchester City superstar Phil Foden deservedly won the Premier League Player of the Season award at the end of the 2023-24 season. The Englishman registered 19 goals and eight assists in 35 Premier League matches, emerging as the Cityzens’ most impactful player.

England fans expected Foden to carry his Premier League form over to EURO 2024. But unfortunately, that has not been the case. Foden has not flourished in Gareth Southgate’s system, cutting a frustrating figure down the left wing. He has looked a little livelier when he has operated through the middle, but that has hurt Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham, who occupy the same area.

England did not suffer due to Foden’s ineffectiveness in the group stage, topping it with only five points. However, there will be no margin for error in the knockout rounds, and the onus will be on the 24-year-old to deliver the goods.

#2 Antoine Griezmann – France

Antoine Griezmann Has Been Below Par In EURO 2024
Antoine Griezmann Had A Disastrous Outing Against Netherlands

Tournament favorites France have been surprisingly underwhelming in the 2024 European Championship. Despite having some of the best players in the world, they have not clicked into gear. Chances have been few and far between and their finishing has also not been up to the mark. Kylian Mbappe has received criticism for not being at his sublime best, but we feel Antoine Griezmann’s performances also need a major revival.

France’s designated Creator-in-Chief Griezmann has not been able to play defense-piercing passes on cue in EURO 2024. His finishing has also been lackluster, with him missing a plethora of presentable opportunities in France’s goalless draw with the Netherlands on Matchday 2. As per the data from Fotmob, Griezmann had an xG of 0.94 in that game and missed two big chances.

France will face Belgium in the Round of 16, and another poor display from the Atletico Madrid man could end up being catastrophic.

#1 Romelu Lukaku – Belgium

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku Has Yet To Score In EURO 2024

One of the flagbearers of Belgium’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’, Romelu Lukaku has been shockingly poor in front of goal this summer. The Belgian Red Devils suffered a 1-0 defeat to Slovakia in their EURO 2024 opener, and their center-forward Lukaku had one of the worst games of his career. He had just 27 touches throughout the game and missed three big chances.

Lukaku had a better game in Belgium’s 2-0 victory over Romania, registering an assist. But his finishing was once against below par. He had an xG of 0.65 and missed two big chances in Gameweek 2. The story was almost identical in the goalless draw with Ukraine on Matchday 3. The Chelsea man had two pretty decent chances but squandered both of them. He also recorded just eight accurate passes — one of the lowest in the game.

Belgium have to beat France to book their place in the EURO 2024 quarter-finals. And to overcome Les Bleus, the Belgian Red Devils must be clinical in front of goal — something Lukaku has not managed in Germany.

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