Euro 2020 Team of the Group Stage: Ronaldo and Pogba star

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald
  • Updated: 25 Jun 2021 08:28 BST
  • 12 min read
Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates equalling Ali Daei's record for international goals for Portugal against France at Euro 2020.
© ProShots - Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates equalling Ali Daei's record for international goals for Portugal against France at Euro 2020.

The Euro 2020 group stage is now over with 16 teams qualified into the knockout stage - some in more dramatic fashion than others.

The final nations confirmed as progressing were France, Germany and Portugal, with Hungary the unfortunate team to be eliminated in Group F.

Article continues under the video

France drew 2-2 with Portugal while Germany had to rely on a lateish goal against Hungary to draw 2-2 and seal a place in the next round.

There were only three nations who won every one of their group games and progressed with the maximum nine points - Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

England made it through despite just scoring two goals, while there have been impressive tournaments from the likes of Sweden and Wales.

But, which players were the top performers from the group stage?

Goalkeeper - Lukas Hradecky (Finland)

Finland were always likely to find the going tough in their first major tournament finals and so it would prove as they were eliminated, but they made life difficult for their opponents, in no small part to the efforts of goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

The Bayer Leverkusen shot-stopper was a picture of concentration throughout the group stage, exemplified by his display against Denmark in a backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win that was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen falling ill. During that match, he saved a penalty from Pierre-​Emile Hojbjerg.

Loses against Russia and Belgium would have been more severe had he not played so well.

Right-back - Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)

As the Netherlands have notoriously played in a 4-3-3 with wingers, there was a lot of apprehensive heading into the tournament due to Frank de Boer's planned implementation of a 3-5-2.

Denzel Dumfries scores for the Netherlands
© ProShots - Denzel Dumfries scores for the Netherlands

The lack of wingers was a concern, but Dumfries has made up for that with some excellent performances down the right, both in attack and defence.

He is regularly found to be the Netherlands' most advanced player, and he has even scored two goals against Ukraine and Austria following galloping runs to join the attack, while he won a key penalty against Austria, too.

Centre-back - John Stones (England)

England's troubles in this tournament have been in their creativity, not in their defending.

Stones has successfully carried on his superb form for Manchester City into the European Championship, displaying a calmness which can't be overappreciated in this England side.

Gareth Southgate's side haven't conceded a goal so far, and Stones has played every minute of the tournament apart from the final 11 minutes versus the Czech Republic.

Centre-back - Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Bonucci endured arguably the worst season of his career at Juventus this past season as he performed well below his usual standards for a side that barely qualified for the Champions League.

Leonardo Bonucci
© ProShots - Leonardo Bonucci

However, the 34-year-old has been back to his best at Euro 2020 thus far. Italy have been arguably the standout team in the competition in the groups, scoring freely and not conceding a goal.

Bonucci has been their leader at the back, especially after Giorgio Chiellini was forced off injured early on in the second match versus Switzerland. His distribution from the back and long passes continue to be elite.

Left-back - Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)

Outside of Italy, Spinazzola was barely known before the tournament – despite being 28 years of age. Everyone knows who he is now.

The Roma wing-back has been devastating down the left-hand side for Italy, tearing Turkey and Switzerland’s right-backs apart during the opening two matches.

It was also reported that Spinazzola had clocked the fastest sprinting speed during Euro 2020 ahead of Wales’ Daniel James and England’s Raheem Sterling. The Italian hit a top speed of 33.8km an hour.

An outstanding dribbler, Spinazzola has given Italy an extra dimension with his ability to run at players from left back. He got an assist in the win against Turkey.

Centre-mid - Paul Pogba (France)

Manchester United fans will be left scratching their heads as to where the Paul Pogba who turns out for France goes when he pulls on the red shirt.

Pogba was a key player as Les Bleus won the 2018 World Cup and has started Euro 2020 in arguably even better form.

Paul Pogba
© ProShots - Paul Pogba

Was the indirect source of the goal that saw Germany beaten 1-0 in Munich then produced a brilliant assist for Karim Benzema in the 2-2 draw against Portugal.

Indeed, he was the outstanding player on the field in the repeat of the Euro 2016 final.

Centre-mid - Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark)

Hojbjerg earned a reputation at Tottenham this season for being a bit of a midfield destroyer while everyone else did the creative stuff.

But, in the Euros, he has displayed his excellent passing ability and the ability to run a game, too.

The Spurs man has three assists to his name so far including two in the must-win final group game for Denmark against Russia, which the Danes won 4-1.

Nobody has more assists than Hojberg so far.

Centre-mid - Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)

Wijnaldum has arguably been the player of the tournament so far. In the absence of the influential Virgil van Dijk, he has taken the captain's armband for the Netherlands and the leadership that comes with it.

Crucially, he leads by example as nothing seems to faze him in the middle of the park.

Not only that, but he is the top scoring central midfielder in the competition, displaying a priceless talent of arriving into the box at the right time.

His first goal against Ukraine was a terrific finish too.

Left-forward - Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Ronaldo has not been at his swashbuckling best in the Euros, much like he wasn't for Juventus this past season.

But, he remains a goalscoring machine and is the leading scorer in the tournament with five goals in three matches.

Three of his goals may be from the penalty spot, but he certainly won't care as he is now the leading goalscorer in the history of the Euros.

Ronaldo's presence alone simply makes him a threat.

Right-forward - Patrick Schick (Czech Republic)

Had it not been for Patrick Schick, the Czech Republic would not be in the last 16 of the competition. The Bayer Leverkusen striker scored all three of their goals, two of which were achieved in impressive fashion.

In the vital opening match against Scotland, he opened the scoring with a pinpoint header under pressure before scoring what will be the goal of the tournament with an opportunist effort from near halfway.

Kept a cool head from the penalty spot to give the Czechs a vital point against Croatia.

Centre-forward - Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

Lukaku entered the competition with plenty of pressure on his shoulders.

With Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard missing at least the opening game, suddenly he became the undisputed main man.

He took the responsibility in his stride though and has gone on to score three in three - and it should have been four if not for a ridiculous VAR decision.

The Inter man is looking dangerous - and there will be more to come.

Euro 2020 Team of the Group Stage

Euro 2020 Team of the Group Stage
© ProShots - Euro 2020 Team of the Group Stage

Never miss the next big transfer!

Get the latest transfer insights and analyses directly in your mailbox.