The Euro 2020 group stage reached its conclusion on Wednesday as Germany eventually secured their place in the last-16 on a turbulent evening in Group F.
Joachim Lowe’s side scraped a late equaliser courtesy of Leon Goretzka to ensure that all of Europe’s traditional behemoth nations will be playing in the knockout stages of the competition.
Spain’s presence at Euro 2020 was also in jeopardy at the beginning of the day but they sliced through Slovakia to secure a morale-boosting 5-0 win amid a backdrop of criticism concerning their toothless edge in front of goal.
The final fixtures in Group E and Group F brought down the curtain on a group stage that, as is typical of major international tournaments, unearthed some little-known gems and provided a grand stage for world football’s most gifted players to consolidate their already otherworldly status.
Six of the most outstanding performers have earned nominations for the GIVEMESPORT Fans’ Euro 2020 Group Stage award.
By relying on a combination of raw statistics and the good old-fashioned eye test, we’ve outlined one nomination from all six groups to compete for the best individual player of the Euro 2020 group stage.
Let’s take a look at the nominees below:
Group A nominee: Manuel Locatelli
Every great Azzurri side needs an Italian Stallion to marshal the midfield and Robert Mancini has an all-action lieutenant with a complete footballing repertoire in the shape of Manuel Locatelli.
The Sassuolo midfielder has rapidly established himself as one of the most coveted players on the continent during the tournament, providing a stark screen for the defensive unit by completing ten tackles and four ball recoveries in just two games.
Serie A giants Juventus are reportedly progressing in talks to sign Locatelli, who Sassuolo are demanding £34m for, and no wonder given he’s managed to supplement his diligent defensive work with two goals.
In a midfield that includes Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella, Locatelli has been the most eye-catching technician of the bunch.
Group B nominee: Romelu Lukaku
Belgium’s all-time record goal scorer has picked up where he left off in Serie A this season by notching three goals in his opening three games to move into joint-second in the race for the Golden Boot.
That’s the type of prolific form that will only intensify rumours linking him with a summer move to Manchester City, but Lukaku has remained firm on his line that he is happy at Inter Milan.
Not only has the 28-year-old been potent in and around the penalty area, he’s also showcased the vast improvements he’s made to his hold-up play at the spearhead of a Roberto Martinez side that has every chance of finally crowning Belgium’s golden era with an elusive trophy.
Group C nominee: Frenkie de Jong
Georginino Wijnaldum has stolen the headlines with three goals in the group stage for the Netherlands but Frenkie de Jong’s artistry in the midfield has been a sight to behold at Euro 2020.
The Barcelona midfielder’s reputation hasn’t quite taken off as many expected it to since he joined the Catalan giants from Ajax, owing much to a club-wide decline rather than individual faults of his own.
However, anyone who has doubted De Jong’s ability will have been left in awe of his playmaking prowess so far, while the grittier side of his game has come to the fore in the shape of seven tackles and a whopping 19 ball recoveries in three appearances.
Group D nominee: Patrik Schick
England topped the group with seven points and a three-game long clean sheet but it was Patrik Schick’s brilliance in the Czech Republic’s opening two games that particularly caught the eye in Group D.
The Bayer Leverkusen star scored the undisputed Goal of the Tournament against Scotland to add to an exceptionally well placed header in the same game, while his penalty against Croatia ultimately enabled the Czechs to guarantee their place in the last-16 before a ball was kicked against England earlier this week.
If Jaroslav Silhavy’s side manage to stage an upset against the Netherlands in the last-16, then Schick is bound to be the protagonist.
Group E nominee: Emil Forsberg
Emil Forsberg scored nine goals in 41 games for RB Leipzig in the 2020/21 season and he’s continued his rich vein of goal scoring form at Euro 2020.
Alexander Isak has been the star of the Swedish show so far, leaving pundits and spectators gushing over his ballerina-like quick-feet, but Forsberg has been a pulsating presence in the midfield and a deadly goal threat to boot.
His expertly taken brace helped Sweden on their way to a 3-2 win against Poland which enabled them to top Group E and set up a last-16 tie with Ukraine next Tuesday.
Aside from his goals, Forsberg has completed 78% of his passes and five ball recoveries.
Group F nominee: Cristiano Ronaldo
Who else? Cristiano Ronaldo has already posted his best ever goal scoring return at a major international tournament by notching five in Portugal’s opening three games.
It’s difficult to fathom that Ronaldo is achieving this level of success at 36 years old, and the quality of his displays thus far suggest he’ll still be on the scene by the time the next European Championships swing round in 2024.
He also provided an assist and won seven fouls for his team in a group that included two sides in France and Germany who both have the tools required to win the competition.
The physical forces of this world that apply to mere mortals don’t seem to have been felt by Ronaldo just yet.
Cast your vote for the Euro 2020 Group Stage award now by clicking here.