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Euro 2020: 5 players who starred on the big stage

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Lorenzo Insigne and his teammates celebrate the Euro 2020 win

The 2020 UEFA European Championship was delayed by a year but it came with a big bottle of excitement, surprises, and a lot of players making their mark on international football.

The tournament was kicked off by Italy defeating Turkey and finished with the mighty Azzurri lifting the Euro 2020 trophy by beating England on penalties in the final.

The fans had several moments to cherish during the tournament with underdogs Switzerland knocking out World Champions France and the Czech Republic defeating the Netherlands, and England finally coming over ghosts of the pasts to knock out Germany.

Denmark making it to the semi-final after key player Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their first match is a fairytale to remember for several years.

Let’s have a look at the five key players that starred on the big stage and were a class apart in Euro 2020.

#5 Patrik Schick

Patrik Schick celebrates his wonder goal

Patrik Schick celebrates his wonder goal

It’s almost impossible to have a UEFA European Championship without a Czech Republic striker lighting up the whole tournament. Think Antonin Panenka, think Milan Baros, and think Patrik Schick.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo won the ‘Golden Boot’ award with Schick cruelly missing out on the prize as he provided no assists. Whilst Ronaldo scored 5 goals and provided an assist in 360 minutes, Schick scored 5 goals and set up no goals in 404 minutes.

The 25-year old Bayer Leverkusen striker scored the best goal of Euro 2020 from the halfway line against Scotland and scored in the crucial quarter-final as well but Denmark replied with 2 goals to knock out his team.

#4 Leonardo Bonucci

Leonardo Bonucci celebrates his goal against England

Leonardo Bonucci celebrates his goal against England

Leonardo Bonucci was a leader at the back for Italy throughout the tournament including the matches that skipper Giorgio Chiellini missed due to injury. 

The experienced defender helped the Azzurri keep clean sheets in all of their three group matches and kept it tight at the back during the knockout stages as well conceding only 4 goals in 4 matches, with three of those going to extra-time.

The 34-year old Juventus star smashed in two crucial penalties and also pulled his nation back into contention during the final with a smartly taken goal in the 67th minute, winning the ‘Man of the Match’ award deservedly in the big finale.

#3 Pedri

Pedri representing Spain in Euro 2020

Pedri representing Spain in Euro 2020

Coming into Euro 2020, Spain was far from favorites as manager Luis Enrique picked a 24-man squad that had no place for any Real Madrid player including La Roja skipper Sergio Ramos.

The Spanish squad outdid everyone’s expectations to make it to the semi-final where they lost to Italy on penalties. The Barcelona teenage midfielder Pedri ran the show in every match, completely dominating the midfield against opponents 10 or even 15 years older than him.

The 18-year old central midfielder bagged the ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ award after showcasing the world his excellent ball control, awe-striking skills and tricks on the ball, and a stupendous vision unmatched in the whole tournament.

#2 Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw and his teammates celebrate his goal against Italy

Luke Shaw and his teammates celebrate his goal against Italy

Luke Shaw had an amazing 2020-21 Premier League season with Manchester United and the full-back carried that confidence into the continental championship.

After being left out of the match against Croatia, Shaw displayed solid performances against Scotland and the Czech Republic, before turning the world upside down with his brilliant runs down the left-wing in the knockout stage.

The left-back had 3 assists, one against Germany and two against Ukraine before becoming the first Manchester United player to score in a UEFA European Championship final. After Ronaldo and Schick, the 26-year old defender had the most direct involvements in the goals scored during Euro 2020.

#1 Gianluigi Donnarumma 

Gianluigi Donnarumma representing Italy at Euro 2020

Gianluigi Donnarumma representing Italy at Euro 2020

It’s easy to forget that Gianluigi Donnarumma is only 22 years old when you look at his 251 caps for AC Milan and 33 caps for Italy keeping a total of 106 clean sheets in less than 300 senior appearances.

Playing behind arguably the best defense in the tournament, Donnarumma did not concede a single goal for the first 383 minutes of Euro 2020 ending up with 3 clean sheets in 7 matches, conceding a total of 4 goals in 720 minutes.

The former AC Milan goalkeeper was the hero in the penalty shootouts against Spain in the semi-final and against England in the final letting only 4 of the 9 penalties hit the back of the net.

Honorable mentions: Jorginho, Jordan Pickford, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Joakim Maehele, Paul Pogba, Thorgan Hazard, Vladimir Coufal, Leonardo Spinazzola 

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