The 10 Best Players of Euro 2024 Group Stage: Germany, Spain, and Italy Highly Represented

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 30.6.2024.


A season's worth of football is nearly condensed into the first phase of the European Championship. Considering that a lot of transfers, many worth 10 million euros or more, get made based on these handfuls of games, dissecting the players’ individual performances is well worth it. Each side played three games in the group stage and due to the stakes of the matches, the 10 best players of the Euro 2024 group stage are worthy of formal individual recognitions.

For some of them, their quality was well known, for others, these games have been the turning point in their careers or their breakthrough moments.

Riccardo Calafiori (Italy)

Riccardo Calafiori

Certainly a surprise starter at the Euros considering he had one full game for Italy before the showdown in Germany. Yet the 22-year-old has played all 270 minutes, with the last one proving to be integral as he broke the lines with his dribbling and unexpectedly shifted the ball to where few expected - Mattia Zaccagni for the equalising goal in the 98th minute. Beyond that assist, Calafiori impressed by making such a quick switch to the centre-back position, as he started his career as a LB. Yet now, it seems that he will be Italy's CB partner for Alessandro Bastoni. One who barely missed the mark for the 10 best players of the Euro 2024 group stage.

Ngolo Kante (France)

Ngolo Kante

While other players who have left for Saudi Arabia have expectedly disappointed, like Aleksandar Mitrovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Ruben Neves, Ngolo Kante exceeded expectations. At the age of 33, Kante isn't past his prime, but few expected him to be the arguably only shining point of France's expedition into Germany. The defensive midfielder is the only one who has held the French NT in the top favourites bracket. The supposedly star-attacking side scored only twice in the group stage and was held to two draws. Kante did his part with 241 minutes on the pitch and enabled the security from the back for the others to show magic, but they didn't.

Georges Mikautadze (Georgia)

No one, including Georges Mikautadze himself, or his mother, believed that he would be the sole top goalscorer of the tournament after three games. With a great chance of joining the likes of legends like Michel Platini, Gerd Muller, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Mikautadze really made quite the splash.

Considering he is only 23 years old and was even picked out by Ajax in the past, the Metz striker will be a worthy re-investment of the French side. As he passed through their academy and B team before a €16,000,000 move to Ajax and a subsequent €13,000,000 re-purchase this summer. As he scored a goal in each of the group stage matches against Turkey, Czech Republic, and Portugal, with an assist against the latter, Mikautadze exploded at the Euros.

Ilkay Gundogan (Germany)

Ilkay Gundogan

His stock has fallen a bit since the move to Barcelona, yet Ilkay Gundogan is still one of the best at what he does - which is everything. The German international bosses the midfield but also poses a serious attacking threat as well, recording an assist against Scotland and Hungary, scoring against the latter too. He is key for Julian Nagelsman, as evident by the captain's armband and only six minutes missed in three matches.

Marcel Sabitzer (Austria)

Marcel Sabitzer

One of the most versatile players in world football showed just how much of an asset that is in international football in particular. Sabitzer already had a great output for Austria, and he has added an assist and a goal in the first three games of the Euro, to make it 14 and 18 in those brackets across 81 games. A captain in the minimal loss to France, Sabitzer is certainly the leader of this team with his energy and commitment on the pitch. Playing all 270 minutes, assisting in the win over Poland, and scoring in the win over the favoured Netherlands.

Marc Cucurella (Spain)

Marc Cucurella

Putting in such performances over the first two games of the group that the English media wondered whether it's the same player labelled as a painfully expensive flop at Chelsea. Especially impressive considering these have been games number five and six in the red shirt of Spain for Cucurella. After the season Alejandro Grimaldo had, he was the expected starting left-back for Red Fury, yet Cucurella proved Luis de la Fuente's decision right beyond argument as Spain won the two harder games, two of the biggest derbies of the tournament, with him in the starting lineup, against Italy and Croatia.

Jamal Musiala (Germany)

Jamal Musiala

On everyone's mind when predicting potential young stars of the tournament and Jamal Musiala has made a good foundation coming into the knockout stage. Scoring in the two opening games against Scotland and Hungary, Musiala was always the starter and subbed off with around 15 minutes to go. His nose for sniffing out space has created issues for the defences at the smallest sight of openings.

Fabian Ruiz (Spain)

Fabian Ruiz

Considering the names like Xavi, Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas that carried Spain's national team in midfield, Paris Saint-Germain's Fabian Ruiz comparatively didn't garner much attention from the public. But with the games the 28-year-old has produced at the group stages of the 2024 Euro, his fee of €22,500,000 might be the best piece of business PSG ever did. His gameplay enabled Spain to create 31 goal attempts versus Croatia and Italy. Teams with strong running midfields, while also scoring and assisting against Croats.

Nico Williams (Spain)

Nico Williams

Perhaps overlooked a bit because his well-hyped brother Inaki never reached the levels prophetized for him. Yet Nico Williams showed a higher ceiling in these two Euro 2024 games than Inaki displayed in nearly 500 professional matches. Rested for the final game against Albania, and not producing any direct goal involvements in the 68 minutes versus Croatia and 78 versus Italy, but Nico Williams ignited recruitment teams across Europe. After displaying a world-class first touch and decision-making, the left-wing player could be a steal for €50,000,000.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

Gianluigi Donnarumma

The best player at the previous Euro continued to shine in the 2024 edition as well. Winning the trophy with Italy in 2021, now as a 25-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma is working with a younger squad in front of him, especially in the first line of defence, but he has been the anchor of stability. Possibly the best Italian player now overall. Facing numerous long-range efforts, aerial threats from the tall Croatians, and the agile Spaniards's entries into his box, Donnarumma proved while he was labelled the biggest goalkeeping talent in the past 10 years. Of course, playing all three games against Albania, Croatia, and Spain, conceding two goals, but facing 14 accurate attempts on goal.



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