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Top Five Players Round 2 Euros 2024

Top Five Players Round 2 Euros 2024

Kai Iliev Kai Iliev

Time flies, and the second match week of the 2024 EURO is now already past us. This means it’s time to rank the best five performers of the second week – a decisive period for many teams. With Poland and Scotland already eliminated, here are the saviours and standout stars for their teams: our top five performers from the second round.

5. Marc Cucurella

Marc Cucurella’s defensive abilities often go underappreciated at Chelsea due to his many offensive shortcomings. However, Spain recognized that this was a defensive player at the base, which was instrumental in their 1-0 victory against Italy

Luciano Spalletti’s team did not get to attack much as Spain dominated the game, but during the few occasions when Italy could break through, Marc Cucurella was ready to meet his markers – and stopped them. 

Federico Chiesa had many troubles against the Spaniard, as Cucurella effectively marked and paralyzed his advances. Chelsea might need to reconsider their assessment of Cucurella, as he has proven to be a valuable asset for La Roja under Luis de La Fuente.

4. Ilkay Gündogan

In Germany’s opener against Scotland (5-1), Toni Kroos was the veteran star of the night, consistently creating chances and driving his team forward. Julian Nagelsmann maintained the same foundation, and it paid off against Hungary, but this time, the spotlight was on another veteran, Ilkay Gündogan

Since joining Barcelona, Gündogan has played a deeper role, which may have led some to forget his efficiency as a late-arriving box crasher. His timely runs overwhelmed Hungary’s centre-back pairing and showcased his offensive prowess.

Gündogan demonstrated his sharpness in the box when paired with Kai Havertz, playing a central role in every attack. A big share of Germany’s excellence has been through the midfield, with Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan being the unstoppable stars of the tournament so far. 

There is no doubt there will be high expectations on Germany’s side for the upcoming games.

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3. Christoph Baumgartner

One of the biggest surprises for many – but not for avid Austrian fans has been Christoph Baumgartner. As one of the few creative players of the Austrian team led by Ralf Rangnick, Baumgartner stands out in a squad that primarily focuses on pressing and off-the-ball virtues (much like Sabitzer).

Austria won the crucial game against Poland (3-1) after losing to France (0-1), which means that the last encounter against the Netherlands is going to be more fun than expected. With three points already in the bag, Austria is likely to see the knock-out phase, even if they finish third in their group.

Doubts clouded Austria’s team after the 1-0 defeat against France. Ralf Rangnick’s team lacked the offensive edge, preferring to close the box down and create chances through pressing. 

But many wondered how they would thrive when given the ball, and Austria addressed these doubts through Christoph Baumgartner. If Austria is going through to the knockouts, he’s a major reason for it.

2. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is a name that is familiar to Premier League fans but perhaps less so to others. Denmark’s ability to secure a point against England (1-1) can be largely attributed to Højbjerg’s exceptional performance. 

England can boast all the quality it wants, when it is disconnected, players like Højbjerg – who function on anticipation – will be able to stop the entire team by single-handedly.

It leaves many wondering how one man can stop an entire team by himself. This is where clarity over talent wins again. Denmark disrupted England’s plan, as the Three Lions found it difficult to drive the ball past the midfield.

Not only did Højbjerg act as a defensive rock when England attempted to counter-attack, but he also took advantage of England’s lack of precision to launch Denmark’s pacey attacks. His technical ability to deliver precise long balls was crucial in initiating Denmark’s offensive plays.

There is no doubt that Denmark’s hopes of making it to the knock-outs are fueled by Højbjerg’s brilliance. After two 1-1 draws (vs Slovenia, and then vs England), Denmark will need him more than ever in their upcoming match against Serbia to secure the vital three points.

1. Nico Williams

When it isn’t one, it’s the other. Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams are likely to figure in every week’s EURO 2024 top five because they’re arguably the best winger pairing the tournament has seen so far. 

Yamal might be more talented, but it was Nico Williams who ran the show against Italy. Both players had their markers on their last legs, leading to Spain consistently attacking through the wings.

The winning goal – and the only goal of the encounter – was a direct consequence of Williams progressing down the wing, with Giovanni Di Lorenzo unable to stop him. With the 1-0 victory over Italy, Spain is already assured of finishing first in their group, thanks to the dramatic 2-2 draw between Croatia and Albania.

Spain is expected to rotate their starting XI against Albania, a meaningless encounter for them.

In the first round, Yamal was the team’s standout player, while the match against Italy saw Williams take the spotlight. 

This raises the question: Which of the two will be the star in the third match? The likely answer is that Lamine Yamal could be benched to give other players, like Dani Olmo, a chance to shine.

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