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Euro 2020: Ranking the 5 best players from the tournament

Euro 2020 was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable major tournaments of the 21st century
Euro 2020 was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable major tournaments of the 21st century
FEATURED WRITER

After 30 days and 51 games of football, UEFA Euro 2020 came to a dramatic climax at the Wembley Stadium, as Roberto Mancini's side completed the Italian job in England by prevailing in a thrilling penalty shootout. Gli Azzurri were crowned kings of the continent for the second time in their history, while past demons came back to haunt England once again as they stumbled at the final hurdle in front of their own fans.

Gareth Southgate and his youthful wave of talent made quite the impact at Euro 2020, but they ultimately succumbed on spot-kicks in the final, as the pressure of winning their first major trophy since 1966 seemingly got the better of them. Italy, on the other hand, came into Euro 2020 in a rich vein of form, but they weren't regarded as one of the pre-tournament favorites. Nevertheless, Mancini and co defied the odds and got their hands on the trophy, indicating that Gli Azzurri are well and truly back on the grandest stage after a few years in the doldrums.

Despite the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, 24 teams took part in Euro 2020 and the tournament was held across 11 countries, as the European Championships belatedly concluded after initially being scheduled to happen last year.

Euro 2020 was one of the most enjoyable major tournaments in recent years and was filled with memorable moments. While the usual suspects like Karim Benzema, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski made a series of defining contributions, a handful of players burst onto the scene and announced themselves to the wider audience.

Picking five of the best players from Euro 2020 was no small feat, as too many variables are involved when it comes to tournament football. However, after a lot of deliberation, we have narrowed down on a list that's got a brilliant mix of youth and experience.

Before we head into the rankings, it has to be mentioned that Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was crowned UEFA Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament after Italy's triumph, does not make the final list!


#5 Federico Chiesa | Italy, Juventus

Italy v England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final
Italy v England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final

Federico Chiesa was initially left out of Italy's starting XI in favor of Domenico Berardi, but he grew in stature as the tournament progressed and emerged as one of their most important players. Gli Azzurri secured qualification to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with one group game to spare, so Chiesa finally got his first chance against Wales as Mancini opted to make a few changes to his starting XI.

Known for his direct running and ability to strike the ball with both feet, the Juventus man quickly showed Italy what they were missing, with Berardi often being criticized for being one-dimensional and predictable in the final third. Chiesa's crowning moment came in the Euro 2020 Round of 16 encounter against Austria, as he came off the bench to break the deadlock for his side in extra time. He kept his place against Belgium in the quarterfinals and was Italy's man of the hour in the semi-final, as he scored another brilliant goal to put his side ahead on the night.

Chiesa's outing in the Euro 2020 final may have ended prematurely due to an injury, but he was undoubtedly Italy's best player before being withdrawn. His direct running and nimble-footedness came to the fore several times, as the English defenders had no choice but to bring him down.

The baby-faced attacker finished Euro 2020 as one of Italy's most important players and made the world take notice of his talents, having emerged as one of the breakthrough stars of the tournament.


#4 Cristiano Ronaldo | Portugal, Juventus

Belgium v Portugal - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16
Belgium v Portugal - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16

Portugal began Euro 2020 as the defending champions, but Fernando Santos and co endured an underwhelming tournament, as they were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Belgium. However, Cristiano Ronaldo had enough time to make his mark, as he once again led from the front and scored a whopping five goals from four games. The legendary attacker picked up the Euro 2020 Golden Boot ahead of Patrik Schick and was Portugal's talisman in a major tournament yet again.

Ronaldo scored a brace against Hungary in Portugal's Euro 2020 opener and followed it up with a goal against Germany, while he also scored two penalties against France to take his side through to the knockout stages. In the game against Belgium, however, he couldn't get his name on the scoresheet, as Roberto Martinez's side hung on for a 1-0 victory.

At the age of 36, Ronaldo picked up his first Golden Boot at a major tournament, a stat that is slightly unbelievable considering his stature. He is likely to stick around for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but as far as the European Championships go, he has already made his last appearance in the competition.


Also Read: Euro 2020 - Ranking the 5 best players from the final

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Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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