We’re only a week into the tournament, but Euro 2020 has been great to watch so far. Most games have been fairly open and we’ve seen a few unbelievable goals scored already, with Patrick Schick’s strike against Scotland widely regarded as the pick of the bunch.
Some of the games have also been a bit hard to predict. I remember watching Belgium last night against Denmark and not being very sure of their ability to go all the way, but Kevin De Bruyne came on as a second-half substitute and changed the game for Roberto Martinez.
Coming to the surprise packages of Euro 2020 so far, I’ve given it a lot of thought and made my five picks. I could’ve so easily gone for Cristiano Ronaldo, but people will say it’s an obvious one. What’s important is the fact that he is 36 years old and still regarded as one of the best players in the world, which is quite unbelievable.
Similarly, in the case of Gareth Bale, he has not made the cut despite being fantastic for Wales so far at Euro 2020. He’s been around for a while and also produced the goods at Euro 2016, so I’ve gone for a few other picks who have really taken us by surprise.
Sometimes I see things a bit differently, but it’s just what I’ve observed and I’ve also given reasons as to why I’ve selected these players.
#5 Manuel Locatelli | Italy, Sassuolo
Manuel Locatelli has been absolutely outstanding for Italy at Euro 2020. I’m going to be honest - I don’t watch a lot of Serie A, but he has really impressed me with his performances. Everyone talks about Patrik Schick’s goal against Scotland as the goal of the tournament and make no mistake, it was some strike from beyond the halfway line.
That said, I really enjoyed Locatelli’s first goal against Switzerland the other day. The ball he played with his left foot to start things off was outstanding, just like the rest of the Italy team on the night. He then ran 60 yards to get on the end of Domenico Berardi’s cross to tap home from close range and that pretty much sums him up in one passage of play.
We have to give credit to Roberto Mancini for unleashing Locatelli from the get-go. In major tournaments, players are sometimes stereotyped because they don’t play for the biggest clubs in the world, so there’s a feeling that they can’t handle the pressure at the top level. Locatelli is at the top now, but the hardest thing for a player to do is to stay there for the foreseeable future.
There’s absolutely no chance he will play for Sassuolo next season. Every club in the world will want him and his agent will be licking his lips at the prospect of brokering a big-money move.
#4 Leonardo Spinazzola | Italy, Roma
I know it’s another Italian player on the list, but they’ve been absolutely outstanding in Euro 2020 so far, so I’ve gone with Leonardo Spinazzola, the left-back. He has bombed up and down the pitch and defended with his heart, his performances have been A+ so far. I could so easily have put in so many other players from Italy because they’ve been incredible, but I’ve chosen Spinazzola because he has had a tremendous impact already at Euro 2020.
What I like about Italy is that they have a vision and they stick to it. So often now, teams play out from the back as it is the fashionable thing to do. Italy, though, seem to have a clear idea of what the other team will do and where their players will be, that’s what’s really impressed me at Euro 2020 so far.
Spinazzola has been a key player for an Italy side that has been a breath of fresh air in the tournament. Full credit to Mancini and his coaches for the way they've played.