Euro 2021 Key Players
Probable Likely Team Selections & Players Involved For:
Key player: Cenk Tosun
Güneş knows how to get the best out of Turkey’s attacking focal point, having been the striker’s boss during a successful collaboration at Beşiktaş. Not outstandingly quick or giant of stature, but a hard worker and a thoroughbred finisher.
One to watch: Burak Yılmaz
The team’s elder statesman at 35, and Güneş’s first-choice striker. Turkey’s second-highest international scorer has managed a goal every two games throughout his career, and is still banging them in at LOSC Lille.
Key player: Marco Verratti
Like his coach, the midfielder is yet to replicate his club form with the national team. Mancini’s possession-based football, however, seems just perfect for the Paris man.
One to watch: Gianluigi Donnarumma
At 21, goalkeeper Donnarumma is already a veteran, having been playing first-team football for years, but he has big gloves to fill as he looks to replace Gianluigi Buffon.
Key player: Gareth Bale
Despite turning 31 in the summer, Bale remains the talisman and is Wales’ all-time record marksman. A huge influence on and off the field, and now back at Tottenham, he has scored crucial goals throughout his international career since debuting in 2006.
One to watch: Ethan Ampadu
Still only 20, Ampadu’s ability to play in both defence and midfield has enabled him to establish himself for Wales. Comfortable on the ball, Ampadu can play out from deep positions and is a solid presence at the back when not in possession.
Key player: Granit Xhaka
A tough tackler with excellent vision, Xhaka is the glue that binds this Switzerland side together. The fact Switzerland surrendered a 3-0 lead against Denmark after his 79th-minute substitution to draw a March 2019 qualifier, tells you a lot.
One to watch: Breel Embolo
Forward Embolo got a fresh start at Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2019 after overcoming a spate of injuries. Powerful, versatile and blessed with great pace, the 23-year-old is a handful.
Key player: Christian Eriksen
With 100 caps in the bag, the 28-year-old is among the world’s best attacking midfielders, a technical player who makes Denmark tick.
One to watch: Mikkel Damsgaard
Damsgaard is a technically gifted player with great vision and exceptional finishing skills. Still only 20, he is on the verge of making a name for himself abroad – with Sampdoria in Serie A – and is also an emerging presence in the national set-up.
Key player: Teemu Pukki
Long earmarked as a player of great goalscoring talent, Pukki has found another gear since signing for Norwich in 2018. His goals have powered Finland’s recent success.
One to watch: Fredrik Jensen
The 23-year-old Augsburg winger has hit the ground running with the senior national team, developing a happy knack of chipping in with goals.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League midfielder of the season picked up four goals and seven assists in just six EURO qualifiers. Roberto Martínez’s key provider also set up 20 Premier League goals for Manchester City in 2019/20, equalling Thierry Henry’s league record.
One to watch: Youri Tielemans
A relatively youthful 23 in a side packed with established talent, Leicester’s versatile midfielder has a venomous shot from distance, not to mention great distribution.
Key player: Artem Dzyuba
Zenit’s tall centre-forward is Russia’s captain and their top scorer among active internationals, getting closer to Aleksandr Kerzhakov’s record of 30.
One to watch: Aleksandr Sobolev
The 23-year-old won his first cap – and scored his first senior international goal – in a 2-1 friendly defeat by Sweden in October 2020. With Dzyuba now 32, the tall Spartak Moskva striker is seen by many as his natural successor.
Key player: Memphis Depay
The Oranje have plenty of squad depth but much of the attacking burden falls on the powerful Lyon forward, an indefatigable runner with a fearsome right foot.
One to watch: Frenkie de Jong
With his exceptional ability to retain possession, create space, glide between the lines and build from the back, De Jong has become Oranje’s midfield metronome.
Key player: Andriy Yarmolenko
Ukraine’s current top marksman (only Shevchenko, on 48, has more), Yarmolenko remains his side’s main creative threat despite being short on first-team football at West Ham.
One to watch: Viktor Tsygankov
The Dynamo man has tough competition, as Yarmolenko and Marlos can both fill his favoured position on the Ukraine right wing, yet he continues to carve out a niche.
Key player: Marko Arnautović
Austria have had difficulties unlocking defences over recent years, but in China-based Arnautović they have a forward who invariably finds the key.
One to watch: Christoph Baumgartner
The attacking midfielder made a huge impact on his Austria debut in September 2020. With excellent vision, precise passing and a clinical streak in front of goal, the Hoffenheim youngster has swiftly established himself as part of Foda’s Plan A.
Key player: Goran Pandev
The versatile Genoa forward is now 37 and in his 20th season in Italy, but his powers of creativity, vision and passing are undimmed. Pandev is North Macedonia’s captain, record scorer and record appearance-maker, and fired them to the finals with a play-off winner in Georgia.
One to watch: Eljif Elmas
Just 21 and earmarked as Pandev’s long-term successor as fulcrum of the national team. The Napoli midfielder’s vision is beyond his years, a master of distribution who doesn’t shirk the physical side of the game.
Key player: Harry Kane
His country’s captain and talismanic striker, Kane remains integral to Southgate’s plans despite the emergence of an exciting crop of youngsters.
One to watch: Jadon Sancho
England have arguably not had a player since Wayne Rooney who was this advanced in his development at such a young age; forward Sancho continues to grow at Dortmund.
Key player: Luka Modrić
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is now in sight of Darijo Srna’s record 134 caps, not only captaining the side but setting the midfield tempo with his vision, energy and slick passing.
One to watch: Josip Brekalo
Modern, fast and skilful, the Wolfsburg winger is blossoming under Dalić. In consecutive matches in October 2020, he scored in a friendly against Switzerland then laid on assists against France and Sweden in UEFA Nations League.
Key player: John McGinn
An old-fashioned Scottish midfielder, McGinn is a quality player who brings more to the side than his ability to tackle and pass. His enthusiasm and tenacity drives the team on, and the Aston Villa man is also a threat when he gets into the opposition box.
One to watch: Lyndon Dykes
The striker followed his “gut and heart” in choosing Scotland over Australia and made an immediate impression with two goals his first five outings. His aerial presence, pace, touch and finishing mark him out as a danger to any back line.
Key player: Vladimír Darida
All-action midfielder who plies his trade at Hertha Berlin, he leads by example and inspired the surprise qualifying victory over England.
One to watch: Tomáš Souček
The beating heart of the Czech midfield redefines what it means to have “good feet for a big man”. Czech player of season 2018/19, as Slavia Praha won the title, and voted No1 by journalists in 2020, he is now at West Ham.
Key player: Sergio Ramos
The glue that holds the defence together, Spain’s most-capped player also features among their top ten goalscorers, partly after pulling rank on penalty duty.
One to watch: Ansu Fati
The Barcelona forward broke a 95-year-old record when he became Spain’s youngest scorer, registering in September’s 4-0 UEFA Nations League victory over Ukraine aged 17 years and 311 days.
Key player: Robin Olsen
The on-loan Everton custodian’s reach, physique and safe hands have time and again proven invaluable for Sweden.
One to watch: Alexander Isak
AIK’s youngest ever goalscorer at 16, the national team’s at 17, Isak recently turned 21 and is plying his trade at Real Sociedad. The towering striker remains mature beyond his years.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski
Poland’s most-capped player and all-time leading marksman, the Bayern striker remains one of the game’s most lethal predators.
One to watch: Krzysztof Piątek
Currently at Hertha after brief but eye-catching spells with Genoa and AC Milan, Piątek has kicked off his burgeoning Poland career with a goal roughly every two matches.
Key player: Marek Hamšík
Slovakia’s most-capped player and all-time top scorer, the 33-year-old captain remains the heart of the national team. Now in China at Dalian Shide, Hamšík dictates play from midfield, with enduring energy and stamina. It is hard to imagine a successful Slovakia side without him.
One to watch: Tomáš Suslov
“I told my father I would play with Marek Hamšík one day,” said winger Suslov, and the 18-year-old may soon be proved right. Picked up from the Tatran Prešov academy, Groningen’s left-winger shows immense promise.
Key player: Willi Orban
Strong in the tackle, Leipzig centre-back Orban is a no-nonsense defender who also offers a real threat at the other end of the pitch. His four international goals since committing to the Hungary cause in October 2018 make him his country’s second top scorer over the past two years.
One to watch: Dominik Szoboszlai
The Salzburg attacking midfielder possesses vision and flair in abundance and is Hungary’s main creative source. That his first two goals in a Hungary shirt came from direct free-kicks attests to his lethal dead-ball ability; his third was the last-gasp play-off final winner against Iceland, also from distance.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal’s most-capped player and all-time top scorer will be 36 if he features at EURO 2020, and will be looking to scratch a small itch: he has never top-scored at a EURO or World Cup finals.
One to watch: João Félix
An attacking player of majestic skill, the Atlético Madrid man is the latest star to bolster a Portuguese side laden with talent. He made his senior debut aged 19 in Portugal’s triumphant 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals campaign.
Key player: Antoine Griezmann
The influence of EURO 2016’s best player and top scorer on the team has deepened with time; he scored three and set up seven in EURO 2020 qualifying, and has since overtaken Zinédine Zidane in France’s all-time top scorers rankings.
One to watch: Clément Lenglet
The centre-back has settled with minimal fuss at Barcelona and, having only made his senior France debut in June 2019, now looks to be first choice alongside Raphaël Varane at the heart of Deschamps’ defence.
Key player: Toni Kroos
One of the few veterans of 2014 left in a youthful squad, Kroos is an exceptional passer who dictates the pace of Germany’s transitions.
One to watch: Kai Havertz
Blessed with superb vision and calm under pressure, Havertz’s tendency to float between lines makes him a perfect fit for Löw’s side.