- 22 January
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Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament: Donnarumma and Ronaldo star as Italy take home the prize
After having to wait an extra year, Euro 2020 is in the books – and it did not disappoint.
With 51 matches played in 11 different countries, Euro 2020 brought us thrilling encounters, breakout stars and a number of brilliant performances along the way.
Robert Mancini’s Italy side ultimately triumphed in the final, with a number of key players helping them along the way with big performances in high-pressure moments.
Young stars and experienced campaigners set the tournament alight, and here is our team of the tournament for Euro 2020.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Named the Player of the Tournament by UEFA, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma came up big for the Azzurri across the entire tournament.
Playing in his first major international tournament at just 22 years of age, Donnarumma made the penalty save that set up the semi-final shootout win against Spain and was the hero in the final with two superb stops.
Donnarumma was also instrumental in the quarter-final triumph over Belgium and will enter the summer as a free agent, set to be snapped up by PSG.
Right-Back: Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)
At PSV last season Dumfries was undoubtedly excellent as an attack-minded full-back and bagged no less than four goals and nine assists in all competitions for the Eredivisie side.
As such, it should come as no real surprise that despite the inconsistent nature of Frank de Boer’s Netherlands side, Dumfries was one of the few bright sparks that shone despite his team’s poor performances.
A goal against Ukraine in a hard-fought 3-2 victory was quickly met with a second in the 2-0 victory over Austria. And while some of the Netherlands’ key players didn’t show up for this competition, Dumfries certainly did.
Centre-Back: John Stones (England)
Coming off a hugely impressive season at Manchester City, Stones followed up his domestic form with an excellent campaign.
Harry Maguire’s injury meant Stones was the one constant at the back, excelling in a four or three-man defence as Gareth Southgate altered the system throughout the knockout stages.
His tournament would’ve been capped off with a goal against Scotland as he plundered a header against the post, or indeed a winner’s medal round his neck.
Centre-Back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
At 34 years of age, Leonardo Bonucci was colossal for Italy alongside long-time teammate Giorgio Chiellini.
Italy only conceded four times in the tournament, with Bonucci excelling alongside his captain as well as without him for the best part of two and a half matches, with Chiellini nursing an injury.
Bonucci also proved pivotal on the scoreboard with the crucial equaliser in the second half of the final, while he successfully converted from the spot in both of Italy’s penalty shootouts.
One of only two Italian outfielders to start every match in the tournament, Bonucci is deserving of the post-match celebrations, claiming a maiden international trophy.
Left-Back: Luke Shaw (England)
Unlike the right-back position, left-back had a number of strong candidates. Joakim Maehle was instrumental for Denmark, Leonardo Spinazzola shone for Italy, but Luke Shaw’s impact on England’s success in the tournament was tremendous.
After missing the group stage opener against Croatia, Shaw started each of the remaining six fixtures, only coming off the pitch in the quarter-final against Ukraine, at which stage England were 3-0 up and already thinking of the semi-final.
Shaw had two assists in that game, adding to one in the round of 16 win against Germany, and for a little over an hour he was the toast of English football after his early goal in the final.
Overcoming injury and countless doubters, Shaw has proven himself at the highest level and will be chasing further international glory with England in the years to come.
Right-Midfield: Raheem Sterling (England)
Often much maligned for his international performances, Raheem Sterling silenced the critics with a stellar tournament for the Three Lions.
The Manchester City winger scored England’s only goals in the group stages and opened the scoring in the last 16.
While his direct output stopped there, his impact on the team continued with his experience, work rate and quality in wide areas helping to propel England forward.
Sterling might well have been a candidate for Player of the Tournament had England won the final, and he will enter the domestic season full of confidence after an excellent tournament.
Central-Midfield: Jorginho (Italy)
The unsung hero of Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri, Jorginho was arguably Italy’s most important player throughout Euro 2020.
The Chelsea midfielder played the most minutes of any outfielder in the tournament, starting every single game for Italy and only being substituted once – being the final group game against Wales.
It was Jorginho’s penalty that got Italy past Spain in the semi-finals, but he missed the opportunity to be the hero again with his potential match-winning penalty against England saved by Jordan Pickford.
A superb midfield campaign, Jorginho’s impact on the side occurred behind the scenes and Italy would not have won the tournament without it.
Central-Midfield: Pedri (Spain)
It’s incredibly easy to forget that Pedri is just 18 years old. Named the Young Player of the Tournament, if anyone hadn’t heard of the Barcelona wonderkid before the tournament, they certainly have now.
He had the confidence to get on the ball and make things happen going forward for Spain, and his ball retention and maturity were crucial to Spain ultimately reaching the last four.
Left-Midfield: Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark)
There were a number of players that stepped up a level and performed admirably for Denmark after the nightmarish scenes in their opening clash with Finland. And Mikkel Damsgaard was certainly one of them.
In place of Christian Eriksen, Damsgaard lit up the tournament with his remarkable range of passing and his eye for an outstanding long-range shot.
His goal against Russia was excellent, but it was undoubtedly bested by the midfielder’s tremendous free-kick against England in the semi-finals.
With a number of Europe’s top clubs believed to be interested after his impressive campaign, Damsgaard could be the big breakout star of Euro 2020.
Striker: Patrick Schick (Czech Republic)
Heading into Euro 2020, Patrik Schick had scored just 13 goals in 36 games for Bayer Leverkusen in an all-round underwhelming campaign in the Bundesliga.
However, once he pulled on his Czech Republic top he suddenly became a superstar.
Against a Scotland side that fancied their chances, Schick happily overcame the odds with a tremendous header in the first half and then a truly remarkable long-range shot over the goalkeeper in the second.
In the following game Schick bagged an opener against Croatia to earn his side a point and scored two more times against the Netherlands and then Denmark to finish the competition with five goals in just five games.
Striker: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Amidst all the young stars that shone in Euro 2020, it was still the familiar face of Cristiano Ronaldo that took out golden boot honours.
Despite what could only be considered as a failure of a tournament from Portugal’s point of view, Ronaldo led his side from the front with five goals and one assist.
That assist ultimately gave him the golden boot in a tie-breaker, as Schick failed to register an assist to add to his five strikes.
At 36 years of age, this could prove to be Ronaldo’s last European Championships, and if it is, then he will be going out on a high after leaving one final mark on the competition.