Players to watch at Euro 2024

football10 June 2024 08:06| © SuperSport

The Uefa Euro 2024 final tournament is set to take place from 14 June to 14 July 2024. This highly anticipated event will feature some of the best national teams in Europe competing for the prestigious title. Catch all the action live on SuperSport.

The group stage of the tournament will run until 26 June, showcasing thrilling matches as teams battle for a place in the knockout rounds. Following a brief intermission, the knockout stage will commence on 29 June, where the intensity will ramp up as teams face off in do-or-die matches, culminating in the final showdown to determine the European champions.

We pick some of the players to look out for at Euro 2024…

Mbappe aiming for more greatness at Euro 2024

Kylian Mbappe has already etched his name in football history for his great achievements as a player and a successful Euro 2024 would go a long way towards his goal of becoming one of the game’s greatest ever players.

The whole world couldn’t help but take notice when he became the first teenager since Pele to score a goal in a Fifa World Cup final. After that triumph in 2018, he then lived out every child’s dream by scoring a hat-trick in a World Cup final, albeit on the losing side in 2022.

That strange combination of being able to keep that match ball but not being able to lift the trophy in Qatar is indicative of how Mbappe’s career can be viewed currently: plenty of individual accolades, but not enough team success.

That might seem harsh when talking about a player that has won 16 domestic club trophies in France, but ever since PSG found themselves elevated to a whole new financial playing field under their Qatari ownership, the only trophy that’s mattered has been the Uefa Champions League and they have famously yet to get over the line in that tournament.

As a player, Mbappe’s ability to perform on any stage was clear for all to see from his days of scoring regularly for Monaco in the Champions League. With speed, a strong physique, elegance on the ball and a killer instinct in front of goal, it was hard to believe that he was 18 years old at the time.

Saka seeking redemption at Euro 2024

For someone who is just 22 years old, Bukayo Saka has already experienced an entire career’s worth of heartbreak.

There’s no doubt that the most painful of these disappointments came at the Euro 2020 final on home soil when he missed a decisive penalty in the shootout against Italy.

The tournament had started so well for him. Still a teenager at the time, he won the player of the match award in his tournament debut against Czech Republic and was instrumental in the knockouts with England beating Germany, Ukraine and Denmark.

Unfortunately, the painful miss in the final is what he will be remembered for. He wasn’t the only England player that failed to score from the spot that night, but he was the one that took the make-or-break fifth penalty that sealed their fate.

English fans have had to endure many years of penalty shootout pain going all the way back to the 1990 Fifa World Cup. Of all the players that have missed a penalty in a major tournament for the Three Lions, Saka is arguably the one that missed the most important one as it would have kept the team’s hopes alive in a final.

Ronaldo out to prove a point at Euro 2024

His place as an all-time great can never be questioned, but the last few years of Cristiano Ronaldo’s stellar career runs the risk of tainting his image as an unstoppable world-beater.

After a return to Manchester United that didn’t go according to the script with a mutual termination of his contract. At the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, he suffered the unthinkable of being dropped from the starting team. This was only made worse in comparison to the tournament of his great rival Lionel Messi who went on to heroically lift the trophy.

Many where underwhelmed by his choice of move to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. While he’s been scoring at a rate better than a goal a game, it’s a career choice that’s always going to be viewed as one where he chose money over competing at a high level.

It leaves an obvious question to ask. Can Ronaldo still make an impact at the highest level?

Kroos looking for the perfect send-off at Euro 2024

Could there be a more fitting way for Toni Kroos to end his international career than a successful Euro tournament in front of home fans.

His days of playing for Germany were supposedly over after he announced his retirement after Euro 2020, but the SOS call earlier this year from coach Julian Nagelsmann has changed all that and it’s no coincidence that his return to the side has led to improvement in results for the team.

It was a disastrous 2023 for the national side and there were fears that they might be on course for embarrassment in a home tournament. Now with Kroos giving the team direction and a calming influence, there’s plenty of optimism going into their opening game on 14 June.

Kroos wasn’t always viewed as a saviour for the team as he is now. In his first Euro tournament in 2012, he was the subject of much criticism after being picked by Joachim Low to man-mark Andrea Pirlo in the semifinal against Italy. It was an ill-conceived idea as Pirlo dominated and the Germans exited the tournament.

It all changed for Kroos at the 2014 Fifa World Cup though where he was undeniably a national hero when Germany won their fourth World Cup title. That tournament in Brazil was an example of the midfielder at his best where his precise passes worked perfectly with the team’s high press tactics.