Instant impact: the standout players of Euro 2020

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)

The PSV Eindhoven wing-back has been exceptional in the opening two matches, scoring the winning goal against Ukraine and rounding off the comfortable victory over Austria with a second of the tournament having earlier won a penalty. A former Aruba international who was named after Denzel Washington, Dumfries was first called up by Ronald Koeman in 2018 but had never scored until his heroics in the opening game. The 25-year-old’s energy down the right flank has given Frank de Boer’s side an extra dimension that has helped them book their place in the next round, with Bayern Munich reported to be among the big clubs now interested in signing him.

Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark)

Denmark’s hopes of qualifying is hanging by a thread after losing their two opening matches but the slight Sampdoria winger’s performance against Belgium should give supporters some hope. In the absence of Christian Eriksen, Damsgaard assumed the role of chief creator in a barnstorming first-half display that probably should have yielded more goals for the hosts. The 20-year-old blotted his copybook with an obvious dive in the second half just before Kevin De Bruyne’s winning goal but looks like he will be a regular for Denmark for years to come. Damsgaard moved to Serie A last year from Nordsjælland having made his first-team debut at the age of 17.

Related: Bruising styles, yodelled anthems and fan fever: Euro 2020 feels like the real thing | Barney Ronay

Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)

“Right now Patrik doesn’t have the muscles, but you can just imagine him in two or three years,” said Pavel Nedved in 2017. It turns out the 2003 Ballon d’Or winner knew what he was talking about. Despite the collapse of Schick’s move to Juventus after he failed two medicals before joining Roma, the 25-year-old is finally fulfilling the early promise he showed as a youth player at Sparta Prague’s academy. His audacious long-distance strike against Scotland took him to four goals in his past five appearances for the Czech Republic, having found his feet at Bayer Leverkusen after his move last summer.

Manuel Locatelli (Italy)

From a goal celebration that brought back memories of Marco Tardelli at the 1982 World Cup to joining Cristiano Ronaldo’s Coca-Cola boycott, it has been some opening week for the 23-year-old from Lecco in Lombardy. As a child, Locatelli dreamed of being a private detective and was a big fan of Murder, She Wrote but Azzurri supporters will be pleased he decided to pursue a different passion after his two goals against Switzerland – the first of his international career. If Roberto Mancini’s side look well equipped to go deep into this tournament it is due in no small part to their ability in midfield, where Locatelli and the energetic Nicolò Barella provide the perfect complement to Jorginho’s steadiness.

Manuel Locatelli (right) celebrates after scoring Italy’s second goal in their 3-0 win over Switzerland.
Manuel Locatelli (right) celebrates after scoring Italy’s second goal in their 3-0 win over Switzerland. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA

Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)

The player born in St Petersburg who moved back to Ukraine as a child has proven the doubters wrong with two brilliant performances that have brought two goals and an assist. Yarmolenko failed to score in 15 Premier League appearances for West Ham last season but appears to have been saving his best for the international stage under his former teammate Andriy Shevchenko. The 31-year-old is clearly relishing the spotlight – in his press conference after the win over North Macedonia on Thursday, Yarmolenko was in mischievous mood. “Can I do something?” he asked. “I’ve seen Ronaldo putting away Coca-Cola bottles recently. I’ll put Coca-Cola here, I’ll put Heineken right here up front. Guys, contact me.”

Related: Brio of Berardi and Locatelli at the heart of revitalised young Italy

Raphaël Varane (France)

It is eight years since José Mourinho described Varane as the world’s best defender and his commanding display against Germany made a good argument for why that is still the case. Still only 28 and having already won the Champions League four times, adding a European Championship winners’ medal to the World Cup title in 2018 could make him one of a handful of players to record a clean sweep of major titles. France are awash with attacking talent but the secret of their success under Didier Deschamps is a defence led by Varane that rarely concedes. Manchester United are long-term admirers and would love to lure him to the Premier League but the departure of Sergio Ramos means Real Madrid are even less likely to do business now.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting