UEFA EURO 2024: 5 Players Who Impressed On Matchday 1

UEFA EURO 2024 1
UEFA EURO 2024 1

On Tuesday night (June 18), Portugal claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Czechia in the final game of the first Matchday of the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024). In the first 12 games of the continental fiesta, we saw some memorable performances from world-class individuals. Their stellar displays fired their teams to crucial wins and draws, taking them closer to the first knockout stage of the competition — the Round of 16.

Before Croatia and Albania kick off Matchday 2 on Wednesday, let us quickly check out the players who stood out on Matchday 1. Here are the top five players who impressed the most on the first five days of this month-long fiesta:

#5 Christian Eriksen – Denmark

Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen Scored Denmark’s Only Goal Against Slovenia

Three years back, Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half of the EURO 2020 clash against Finland. His teammates surrounded him, guarding him from cameras, as the medical staff brought him back to life. The last three years have been a story of grit, determination, and healing. And on Sunday (June 16), the story reached its heartwarming climax, as Eriksen not only featured for his country against Slovenia but also delivered a Man of the Match performance.

The Manchester United midfielder found the back of the net in the 17th minute, applying a clinical finish to put away Jonas Wind’s delivery from close range. Eriksen also created a game-high seven chances, delivered seven accurate crosses, made seven recoveries, and won four ground duels on Matchday 1.

The Danes unfortunately could not hold on to their lead, as Erik Janza equalized for Slovenia in the final quarter of the game.

#4 Jude Bellingham – England

Bellingham England
Bellingham Scored England’s Only Goal Against Serbia

England have faced a lot of criticism for not living up to expectations in their UEFA EURO 2024 opener against Serbia on Sunday (June 16). Things would have been a lot direr had Jude Bellingham not popped up with the only goal of the game in the 13th minute. The Real Madrid midfielder penetrated the box through the middle, put his body on the line, and applied a thumping header to send Bukayo Saka’s delivery into the back of the net.

Bellingham also showed his tenacious side in the match against Serbia. He lent support in defense, never hesitating to track back and popping up with a couple of important tackles. Before coming off in the 86th minute, the 20-year-old completed 67 passes (96% accuracy), played nine passes into the final third, delivered four accurate long balls, won two tackles, recorded three recoveries, and came out on top in 10 duels.

#3 Cody Gakpo – Netherlands

Cody Gakpo Was One Of The Best Players In EURO 2024 Matchday 1
Cody Gakpo Scored The Equalizer Against Poland

One of the contenders for EURO 2024, the Netherlands did not have the best start to the tournament on Sunday (June 16). Just 16 minutes in, they found themselves down by a goal, with Adam Buksa firing Poland into the lead. Luckily, Holland had an inspired Cody Gakpo in their ranks, who delivered a masterclass to help them to a 2-1 comeback victory.

In the 29th minute, Gakpo got the ball from Nathan Ake, ran to the edge of the Polish box, and dispatched a low shot. The ball took a deflection off Bartosz Salamon before going past a wrong-footed Wojciech Szczesny and nestling into the back of the net. Gakpo’s goal set the stage for a dramatic Netherlands turnaround, with substitute Wout Weghorst scoring the winner in the 83rd minute — just a couple of minutes after coming on.

The equalizer was not Gakpo’s only contribution against Poland. He also created three chances, completed a game-high five dribbles, delivered two accurate crosses, won an impressive 15 duels, and drew four fouls.

#2 Fabian Ruiz – Spain

Fabian Ruiz Was One Of The Best Players On EURO 2024 Matchday 1
Fabian Ruiz Scored & Assisted Against Croatia

Spain and Croatia kicked off the proceedings in Group B on Saturday (June 15), locking horns at the Olympiastadion. Luis de La Fuente’s Spaniards ran circles around Zlatko Dalic’s Croats, claiming a commanding 3-0 victory and moving to the top of the Group B rankings. Many Spaniards impressed in the clash in Berlin, but Fabian Ruiz was the standout performer.

The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) midfielder played an inch-perfect through ball for skipper Alvaro Morata in the 29th minute. The Atletico Madrid man held his nerve in the one-on-one duel with the goalkeeper and slid the ball into the left side of the goal.

Three minutes after recording a gem of an assist, Ruiz got on the scoresheet himself. Receiving the ball from Pedri, Ruiz tip-toed past a couple of Croatian challenges before slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner with confidence. Ruiz also completed 49 of 54 passes (91% accuracy), created a big chance, pulled off two dribbles, and delivered four accurate long balls against Croatia.

#1 Arda Guler – Turkiye

Arda Guler Was One Of The Best Performers Of UEFA EURO Matchday 1
Arda Guler Scored A Goal Of The Tournament Contender Against Georgia

Teen sensation Arda Guler made his European Championship debut when Turkiye squared off against Georgia on Tuesday evening at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. The Real Madrid man started brightly, passing the ball around with grace and sliding into little pockets of space in the final third. The 19-year-old created a few goalscoring opportunities for his teammates in the first half, but Turkiye attackers could not make the most of them.

With the score reading 1-1 in the 65th minute at Signal Iduna Park, Guler scored a Goal of the Tournament contender, sending Turkiye fans into pandemonium. Receiving the ball about 25 yards away from the goal, Guler took a couple of touches before letting fly with his left boot. The ball swerved in the air, dismissing the goalkeeper out of the equation and nestling in the top-right corner of Georgia’s goal. The wonder strike aside, the youngest player to score in his EURO debut also created three chances, completed 38 passes with 93% accuracy, pulled off a dribble, and won all three of his tackles. A European Championship debut for the ages!

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