For the first time in a decade, England and Italy will not be in the same group in the European Football Championship next year. The draw, which took place on Monday, revealed that the two countries will play four times in the group phase, as opposed to just once in the previous editions of the tournament. This year’s Euro has already been a disappointment for a number of European countries, with the results of the first two games showing that the continent is a long way from great. The four teams that will compete in the group phase of the tournament are France, Switzerland, Belgium and Portugal, with the latter side crashing out after losing all of their group games.
France manager Didier Deschamps named his 23-man squad for Euro 2020, and there were a lot of surprises. Didier Deschamps took a risk by not including Kylian Mbappe among his 23-man squad. It’s the latest in a series of step-by-step moves by Deschamps to put more trust in the youngsters that have proven their abilities in Ligue 1.
3:54 AM ET
Ian DarkeESPN.com editor
Darke, who directed the network’s games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, is ESPN’s main soccer voice in the United States. He has been covering the Barclays Premier League and Champions League since 1982 and has one of the most recognisable football voices in the world.
After a month on the road covering the wonderful and dramatic Euro 2020, ESPN commentator Ian Darke picks his best and most disappointing eleven. Who made the list of the best and the worst?
Go to : Most disappointing XI | Best goal
Gianluigi Donnarumma | Italy
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper was officially named player of the tournament and crowned a great month with crucial saves in the final series against England. Having never scored more than one goal against in a game under Roberto Mancini, the 22-year-old will be Italy’s number one for at least the next ten years. Made from the same fabric as the great Italian goalkeepers Dino Zoff and Gianluigi Buffon.
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Kyle Walker | England
At 31 the oldest player on the England team, but still the fastest, and his speed saved the day in some difficult moments. All in all, the tournament marked a remarkable return for a player who seemed to have fallen out of favour with Gareth Southgate just a year ago. Of the other right backs at Euro 2020, Stefan Lainer from Austria had a very good tournament.
Leonardo Bonucci | Italy
His courageous play in the final – a draw and a goal in the penalty shootout – gave him an edge over John Stones of England and Simon Kier, the captain of Denmark. It’s incredible to think that nine years ago he played in the final with his friend Giorgio Chiellini and lost. They will even go on vacation with their families this week and may not even score a goal when they play ball on the beach with their kids.
Giorgio Chiellini | Italy
What a player, and what a man. He creates a celebration among his teammates and the Italian fans every time he stops an attack, which he often does. For the past year, it looked like some serious injuries would end his career, but this summer he was monumental when it came down to it. It’s hard to believe he’s turning 37.
Luke Shaw | England
The Manchester United left-back had a brilliant tournament, conceding three goals and scoring in the second minute of the final. He was part of a solid defense and was always a threat on offense. Italian electrician Leonardo Spinazzola was an obvious candidate for that spot until he suffered a hamstring injury against Belgium that kept him sidelined for several months.
Giorginho | Italy
He ran the furthest in the tournament and was the beating heart of World Cup winner Roberto Mancini, constantly dictating the tempo with clever use of the ball in midfield. It’s strange to think that Chelsea fans mocked him as a meaningless entity when Maurizio Sarri was at the helm at Stamford Bridge, especially now that he has won the Champions League and the Euros twice with Chelsea and Italy. His partner, the English singer, is not allowed to talk to him this week!
Paul Pogba | France
Although the world champions lost early to Switzerland, Pogba again showed that he looks twice as good when wearing the blue shirt of France and not the red of Man United. He made a few good moves, handed out a few good passes and scored a memorable goal, but the problem was that one or two people around him missed shots.
Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Donnarumma were the two main figures in Italy’s monumental winning team at Euro 2020. Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Pedri | Spain
It is almost frightening to think what this 18 year old could have accomplished, so intelligent and mature was this elegant young man. It seems that Barcelona have a possible successor for Andres Iniesta. Spain dominated Italy for much of the semi-final, and Pedri played a key role in that. He’s off to the Olympics this week, but after that I’m sure he’ll be a big star at the World Championships next year. His teammates Dani Olmo and the evergreen Sergio Busquets also shone for the unfortunate Spaniard. Was voted best youth player of the tournament.
Raheem Sterling | England
He was often sidelined by Manchester City at the end of the 2020-21 season, but it seems his time on the bench has refreshed him for the Euros, all a stone’s throw from Wembley where he grew up as a youth footballer in a team called Alpha and Omega. He scored three times, put Harry Kane’s goal against Ukraine on the scoreboard and evaded a controversial penalty kick to give England victory in the semi-finals. Always great.
Romelu Lukaku | Belgium
He scored four goals and had the confidence of a lucky man who led Inter Milan to the Serie A title and wants to stay there. Fast and dangerous, he is now acquiring additional skills, but is this the last hurrah for this talented Belgian generation? Probably not, with the World Cup only 16 months away.
Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest developments and discuss key storylines. Broadcast on ESPN+ (US only).
Lorenzo Insigne | Italy
The speed of the Napoli player, small and broad-shouldered, is unbeatable. He scored two beautiful goals and kept moving, turning and turning to create chances for his team. Mikkel Damsgaard from Denmark and Pablo Sarabia from Spain were also present.
Supply of parts
Casper Schmeichel (Denmark); Aymeric Laporte (Spain), John Stones (England), Harry Maguire (England), Milan Skriniar (Slovakia), Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands), Simon Kjaer (Denmark), Joakim Maele (Denmark), Attila Fiola (Hungary), Martin Hintergger (Austria), Stefan Liner (Austria); Marco Verratti (Italy), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Declan Rice (England); Antoine Griezmann (France), Federico Chiesa (Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Jeremy Docou (Belgium).
Most disappointing XI
Exhaustion and fatigue meant that some of the expected stars of Euro 2020 just couldn’t prove themselves. Or maybe they were out of shape. For some, the tournament was an uncomfortable reality check. Having selected his best eleven, Ian put together a team of players who will not look back on the last month with much warmth.
Martin Dubravka | Slovakia
His own goal against Spain will haunt the Newcastle goalkeeper, when he turned a routine shot over the bar into a pointless error, sending the ball into his own net. Slovakia then exploded, gave up five goals and was eliminated from the tournament. This otherwise flawless operator burned all copies of this game cartridge.
Julien Laurens assesses whether France will support Didier Deschamps or invite Zinedine Zidane in the near future.
Benjamin Pavard | France
Scored the finest goal of the 2018 World Cup for France against Argentina, but faltered at this Euro. The fact that Hungarian Attila Fiola managed to score a goal in Budapest did not inspire confidence and the world champions were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Matthias Ginter | Germany
He was known in the Bundesliga as the king of the one-on-one duels, but was the weak link in a German defence that gave up seven goals in four games. He scored both of England’s goals at Wembley during Germany’s elimination from the tournament.
Merih Demiral | Turkey
There has been a lot of talk about Turkey’s fantastic defence in the qualifiers, where they only conceded three goals. But they looked vulnerable from the start of the Euro, and Demiral’s clumsy goal in the opening game against Italy summed up the bitter disappointment.
Ben Chilwell | England
That’s a bit harsh, because Chilwell didn’t hit a single ball the entire tournament and wasn’t even on the bench in the final. But that’s just the point. Despite Luke Shaw’s excellent performances in the tournament, it is a mystery why the man who played for Chelsea in the Champions League final at the end of May has not been used for a second by Gareth Southgate.
Julien Laurence does not understand Gareth Southgate’s tactics during England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Marcos Llorente | Spain
Llorente, who was seen as the star of the summer and who has had a season in which he was an indispensable link in Atletico Madrid’s title campaign, has shown himself more subdued at this tournament. He lost his place in the starting line-up to Luis Enrique as Spain found a better rhythm in the match without him. This energetic artist will be back.
Marek Hamšík | Slovakia
The signature mohawk is still there, but not of the quality that brought Hamsik to a brilliant career for Napoli and his country. Today, at the age of 33, he is no longer able to inspire and defeat fights with his former momentum.
Hakan Calhanoglu | Turkey
For the sake of his country, this enigmatic creator should be at his best in this tournament. But honestly, it was nothing, and Turkey was home for the cards. It’s hard to say what went wrong after a good season for AC Milan.
Bruno Fernandes | Portugal
He scored goals, gave assists and had ideas for Manchester United, but he never got the chance to prove himself at the EURO and was left out of the squad. A long and gruelling season, which only ended with the Europa League final at the end of May, seemed to have lost its explosiveness.
Kylian Mbappe | France
Even the brightest stars need a little rain in their lives. He’s a brilliant talent, but he hasn’t had any luck in this tournament. He did not score a single goal, and the pained look on his face when he missed the decisive penalty against Switzerland will always be etched in the memory of this World Cup. Normal operations are expected to resume during the World Cup.
Kylen Mbappé had a tough Euro, but don’t worry: He will be back to his best for the 2022 World Cup. Daniel Mihailescu – Pool/Getty Images
Serge Gnabry | Germany
Perhaps the goal of the match for Germany, who missed once. When he was substituted in the game against England at Wembley, he came across as a cranky man, totally ineffective as a substitute. It was like he wasn’t himself.
Other big names who didn’t live up to their reputation Phil Foden (England), Joao Felix (Portugal), Burak Yılmaz (Turkey), Ruslan Malinovskiy (Ukraine), Zeki Celik (Turkey), Thiago Alcantara (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium).
Patrick Schick’s incredible shot from close range from the edge of the penalty area in the Czech Republic’s match against Scotland. The technique and speed of thought to achieve this was excellent.
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