The biggest breakthrough stars from Euro 2020


Just one game remains of Euro 2020, and it’s almost time to start looking back at the tournament instead of looking forward.

Several players have risen to the occasion, with many of the usual suspects performing to a world-class level.

It’s no surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo leading the Golden Boot race, with Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Karim Benzema not far behind him.

No one’s shocked to see Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini keeping things tight at the back.

But some lesser-known players have had a breakthrough tournament. Here are six surprise packages from Euro 2020.

Mikkel Damsgaard

Damsgaard silenced the home crowd at Wembley with a stunning free-kick

After the awful events that transpired in the first half of the Denmark vs Finland game, Mikkel Damsgaard was given the enormous task of filling Christian Eriksen’s shoes. Thankfully, it was a challenge that he was well up to.

The young winger really made a name for himself at this tournament, scoring two goals and registering an assist.

His first strike came in the vital group stage finale clash with Russia, bending one into the top corner from 25 yards to put his side in front.

He followed this up in the round of 16 with an assist for Kasper Dolberg to open the scoring against Wales.

And, in the semi-finals, Damsgaard lit up the game on the half-hour mark with a breathtaking free-kick, putting Denmark ahead at Wembley.

Joakim Maehle

Maehle has emerged as one of the tournament’s finest full-backs

From one Dane to another, as Joakim Maehle joins the list.

As a right-footed left-back who made just 12 starts for Atalanta last season, very few people expected Maehle to make an impression.

By the end of the tournament, the 24-year-old was being talked about as one of the standout players.

He received widespread praise for his threat going forward, providing two goals and one assist.

He bagged late goals against Russia and Wales to sweeten the scoreline and then recorded one of the assists of the tournament with a world-class outside of the foot cross for Dolberg against Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

Leonardo Spinazzola

Spinazzola was one of Italy’s standouts before his injury

Right from the first whistle, Leonardo Spinazzola was making an impression at Euro 2020.

In the tournament’s opening game, he put in a Man of the Match winning display in Italy’s 3-0 win over Turkey.

He continued to shine throughout the summer, conceding just two goals in five appearances while looking like a constant threat down the left.

His highlight moment came in the round of 16 tie against Austria when he assisted Federico Chiesa’s vital goal in extra time, which helped the Azzurri progress.

Unfortunately, Spinazzola’s campaign was cruelly ended at the quarter-final stage, when he suffered a torn Achilles.

Denzel Dumfries

Dumfries shone during the group stages

Netherlands were the top scorers of the group stage, but not many would have predicted the main source of danger.

Denzel Dumfries exploded into life right from the start, heavily contributing to all of the Oranje’s five goals from their first two games.

He scored against both Ukraine and Austria and also won a penalty against the latter, as well as being highly involved in two more against the former.

Steven Zuber

Zuber has recorded the most assists of Euro 2020 so far

Maehle, Spinazzola, and now Steven Zuber – the left-backs have taken everyone by surprise at Euro 2020.

You could’ve asked a million people before the tournament to predict who would lead the assists charts, and you’d probably get no one saying Zuber. And yet, here we are.

One ahead of Luke Shaw, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Dani Olmo in second place. Two clear of Kevin De Bruyne, four ahead of Kane, Thomas Muller and Bruno Fernandes.

He more than played his part in the shock dismantling of France in the round of 16.

It was his cross that led to Haris Seferovic’s first, and he also won a penalty early in the second half.

Kalvin Phillips

Will Phillips help England win it on Sunday?

Before a ball had even been kicked, Kalvin Phillips’ inclusion came under fire among some England fans.

Gareth Southgate’s decision to play two defensive midfielders was not a popular one, with many people believing that Phillips should have been replaced in favour of the younger and more technical Jude Bellingham.

Nonetheless, Southgate stuck with the Leeds United man, and it has reaped incredible rewards.

The 25-year-old immediately silenced the doubters with a brilliant display during game one against Croatia, comfortably dealing with Luka Modric while assisting the winning goal.

Since then, he has formed an almost impenetrable partnership with Declan Rice at the base of midfield.

The pair have been a big part of the Three Lions’ defensive system, which has conceded just once so far in six games.

They will need to be at their best again for Sunday’s final against Italy.

Read also: Italy vs England – Euro 2020 Final Preview, H2H, Team News, Players to Watch & Predicted Line-ups.

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