International Soccer

Best XI of the group stage

The Euro 2024 group stages surprisingly weren’t defined by Ballon d’Or candidates like Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe.

They also weren’t defined by the pre-tournament favourites England and France, who laboured into the last 16 rather than spectacularly waltzing through like many had predicted they would.

Instead, it was left to the likes of Georgia and Austria to steal the limelight – each country doing just that as victories over Portugal and the Netherlands helped advance them out of their respective groups.

Understandably, their impressive results and performances were inspired by some top drawer individual showings – some of which were good enough to earn a place in 90min’s prestigious best XI of the group stage.

Giorgi Mamardashvili

Catching the eye of Europe’s top clubs / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Nation: Georgia

Giorgi Mamardashvili has been linked with Chelsea, Newcastle United and Bayern Munich and it’s pretty damn easy to see why.

The 23-year-old has been the standout goalkeeper at Euro 2024 so far, and his performance against Portugal in the final group game may go down as one of the greatest goalkeeping performances in the tournament’s history.

Joshua Kimmich

Back in form / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

Nation: Germany

After a year of so-so form under Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich, Joshua Kimmich seems to have re-found his mojo under Julian Nagelsmann at Euro 2024.

The right-back has been exceptional for Germany thus far, bombing up and down the flank like the Kimmich of old. We simply love to see it.

Riccardo Calafiori

Breakout star / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Nation: Italy

If you type ‘aura’ into the X search function, chances are you’ll see a tweet about Riccardo Calafiori.

And while a lot of the praise for Calafiori has come because he looks like an Italian defender from the early 2000s, even the most cynical football fan out there can’t deny that a big chunk of it has become because of the high standard of performances he’s put in.

The Bologna man has been fantastic both on and off the ball for Italy – so good, in fact, that we’ll forgive him for scoring an own goal against a really impressive Spain side.

Marc Guehi

Impressing / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Nation: England

Not many people expected Marc Guehi to be England’s only good player in the Euro 2024 group stages.

And yet, that’s exactly what he has been.

While the players around him have floundered for the most part, the Crystal Palace centre-back has been fantastic at the heart of the Three Lions defence.

UEFA EURO 2024Spain v Italy

Playing better than expected / ANP/GettyImages

Nation: Spain

Yes, Marc Cucurella.

Yes, that Marc Cucurella.

Yes, that Marc Cucurella that plays for Chelsea.

Yes, he’s actually been bloody brilliant for Spain at Euro 2024 so far.

Yes, that is a bit of a surprise.

Fabian Ruiz

Starring for Spain / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

Nation: Spain

On and off the ball, there wasn’t a better midfielder than Fabian Ruiz during the Euro 2024 group stages.

The PSG man was exceptional, and was the standout from Spain’s stupidly gifted midfield which also includes Rodri and Pedri.

Ilkay Guendogan

Playing well / Stefan Matzke – sampics/GettyImages

Nation: Germany

Back playing in his favoured more advanced attacking midfield role – after a season of football playing deeper in Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona side – Ilkay Gundogan has been pretty damn brilliant thus far for his nation.

The ex-Manchester City man’s best performance of the tournament thus far undoubtedly came on matchday two when he scored in a routine win over Hungary.

Marcel Sabitzer, Micky van de Ven

Great goal / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Nation: Austria

Austria have been the surprise package of Euro 2024 thus far, finishing top of a group which included both France and the Netherlands, and that is in large part thanks to their captain Marcel Sabitzer.

As well as dictating the high tempo of their play, Sabitzer also popped up with a number of crucial offensive contributions – including a well-taken match winner against the Dutch.

Nico Williams

Fun to watch / Edith Geuppert – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Nation: Spain

The most feared attacker at Euro 2024?

After his performance against Italy, he has to be.

Nico Williams has been electric on the left flank for Spain thus far, combining pace, trickery and end product with devastating effect.

Georges Mikautadze

Goalscorer / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Nation: Georgia

The top goalscorer at Euro 2024 is none other than Georges Mikautadze – a striker who currently plays for Ligue 2 side Metz.

What a world we live in.

Jamal Musiala

Top player / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Nation: Germany

While Jude Bellingham, Kylian Mbappe and co. have struggled to get going thus far, Jamal Musiala hasn’t.

Germany’s star attacker has been bloody fantastic, netting two goals, bagging a player of the match award against Scotland, and debuting a new Carmelo Anthony inspired celebration.

Top stuff.

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